Bulletin Staff Report

St. Charles Health System announced Monday its decision to close the family birthing center at St. Charles Redmond, a move that saw strong opposition in the Redmond community among nurses, patients and others.

The birthing center will close sometime in summer 2019, said hospital spokeswoman Lisa Goodman.

“There’s no firm date,” Goodman said. “It depends on how the plan is implemented.”

In a news release Monday, St. Charles said its board of directors acted on the recommendation of a task force of health care providers and community members in making the decision.

“This was not an easy decision to make,” said Board Chairman Dan Schuette in the release. “But as a health system, we must take into account the needs of our entire region and try to best serve as many people as possible.”

St. Charles officials say both the Redmond and Bend birthing centers have been operating at less than half capacity, driving up costs for patients and insurance plans. St. Charles has some of the highest costs for births in the state — 20 percent higher than the state average and nearly twice the lowest-cost hospital in the state.

The hospital system had convened a work group to find a way to cut costs and improve quality of care for pregnant women. The group forwarded three proposals to the hospital’s executive committee, including one that would keep the birthing center open for low-risk births. But hospital officials indicated a proposal to close the birthing center in Redmond and shift those deliveries to Bend was the most likely to be approved by its board of directors.

The board voted last week to close the birthing center in Redmond, Goodman said.

Among the changes announced Monday was the addition of an obstetric hospitalist program at St. Charles Bend to provide care for patients in labor and manage obstetric emergencies, and the addition of midwifery services, according to the St. Charles’ release. The St. Charles Center for Women’s Health in Redmond will stay open for prenatal and gynecologic health care.

The hospital system said caregivers who work in the family birthing center in Redmond can move to other positions in the hospital system and won’t lose their jobs. The birthing center employs 34 people.

“We are absolutely committed to ensuring every person impacted by this move will be offered other positions in the health system they feel good about,” Goodman said.