Oregon Health Officials Reject Request to Close Gresham-Based Birth Center

The Oregon Health Authority has denied the Legacy hospital system’s request to close its birthing center in Gresham.

Since March 17, women in labor who went to Legacy Mount Hood Hospital couldn’t expect to have their babies there. Legacy officials shut down the birthing center because the small hospital had no doctors to deliver babies safely.

But according to a decision made by the state’s health agency today, they weren’t allowed to do that.

Oregon Health Officials Reject Request to Close Gresham-Based Birth Center

As part of their state license, healthcare facilities like Legacy are required to offer birthing services at their Gresham location. This is part of the rules set by the state. A statement from the Oregon Health Authority says that the state is now looking into Legacy for not following the rules because it closed its birth center in Gresham without first getting a waiver from the state.

If the investigation finds that the hospital did something wrong, it would have 90 days to get back in line or risk being unable to bill Medicare or Medicaid, the two most extensive federal health insurance programs.

The state’s denial of the waiver and its new investigation are the latest steps in a process that started at the end of last year when the hospital’s leaders tried to change how the birthing center worked.

Obstetricians had always been on duty there around the clock. Instead of full coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the new model would have had obstetrics doctors on call.

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Many doctors quit because of the proposed changes. They said the center couldn’t care for its most vulnerable patients without someone there 24/7.

A statement posted online a few weeks ago said that by the end of January, the people in charge of Legacy could not see any way to keep the labor and delivery services running in any way.

The hospital didn’t have a new statement in response to the denial of the waiver.

Below a Twitter post is given related to this news-

In reviewing the waiver request, state health officials seem to agree with the Legacy doctors who quit because they thought the new model wouldn’t help their patients.

“Before its closure, Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center served more women seeking urgent obstetrical care than any other hospital in the Legacy system,” reads the Oregon Health Authority statement. “It served a disproportionate percentage of patients with limited English proficiency, fewer or no prenatal visits, limited education, and greater enrollment in the Oregon Health Plan (OHP).”

Health authority officials thought that because so many of the center’s patients come in when they need immediate care, many would have to give birth in the emergency room instead of being sent to one of the five nearby Portland hospitals that offer birthing services.

“In those circumstances, emergency physicians may not have adequate training and experience in deliveries, and there would not be enough time to transport patients facing complications,” according to the health authority’s statement.

In its statement about why the waiver was turned down, the state says that the hospital should have hired doctors willing to use the proposed new care model.

In the coming weeks, we should know the results of the investigation.

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