New York system delays birth center closure amid equity concerns

St. Peter's Health Partners has delayed plans to shut down the maternity unit at Troy, N.Y.-based Samaritan Hospital to address community members' concerns about care access and transportation barriers, the the Times Union reported Oct. 23.

Albany, N.Y.-based St. Peters was originally slated to close the hospital's birthing unit in December but has extended this deadline by six months. The system now aims to shutter the unit no later than June 30, 2024.

The decision came the same day the system shared the results of a health equity impact assessment independently conducted by Chartis. The assessment is the first of its kind done in New York since the state implemented a new law in June that requires hospitals to conduct a health equity analysis before scaling back or eliminating a service. St. Peter's, part of Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health, submitted its certificate of need proposal before the law took effect but still opted to conduct the analysis voluntarily. 

The report, released Oct. 23, found travel distances will double or triple for most patients seeking maternity services. In 40% of zip codes surveyed, at least 10% of patients do not own a car. St. Peter's is hosting an open house for community members Nov. 9 to discuss transportation planning ahead of the closure, among other care concerns identified in the assessment. 

"We understand the importance of these discussions to everyone who relies on SPHP for their maternity care and are hopeful the community will see that our closure plan addresses the impacts identified in the health equity impact assessment," Steven Hanks, MD, president and CEO of St. Peter's Health Partners, told the Times Union. "We continue to believe this is the right decision to ensure everyone has access to the care they need, whoever they are and wherever they may reside in the Capital Region."

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