Threatened Trinity Health-owned Oregon maternity center may stay open after public outcry

Public and local government pressure could see a Baker City, Ore.-based maternity center slated to close July 31 remain open for another year, according to a July 27 The Lund Report story.

Boise, Idaho-based Saint Alphonsus Health, part of Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health, one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the country, said it is transferring nurses from Idaho for the short term to keep the doors open at the Baker City birthing center. Local government has agreed to fund the travel and lodging expenses for the nurses to match federal funds, the reports said.

Oregon, like many states, has seen increased pressure on such birthing centers. In April, Portland-based Legacy Health said it would reopen its Mount Hood center in Gresham after the Oregon Health Authority said Legacy could not close it as originally planned.

In this case, Saint Alphonsus and Trinity cannot be forced to keep the center open, but local mothers intend to keep the pressure up.

"While we can't force St. Alphonsus to sell, though they do not seem to care about our community, what we can do is make things a little bit uncomfortable for them," said Paige Witham, who was at a July 27 public hearing on the center's future.

Residents have complained that closing the Baker City facility will force expectant mothers to drive over potentially dangerous mountain passes to get help with their pregnancies at locations 45 minutes away.

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