Legacy Health to reopen Gresham birthing center in 90 days

Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 6:31 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Legacy Mount Hood nurses say the last few months have been a rollercoaster, which is why they’re feeling uneasy about the news that Legacy Health plans to reopen the Gresham Mount Hood Family Birth Center within the next 90 days.

“We were surprised. We’re pleased but we’re also cautious about that outcome,” Christina Weathers, an ICU Nurse at Mount Hood Medical Center, said.

“We’re cautiously excited and waiting to see that Legacy follows through,” an Emergency Department Charge Nurse, Jenni Suarez, said.

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In February, Legacy announced they were closing the birth center on March 17 without approval from the Oregon Health Authority. Suarez said this closure was something she and her colleagues were devastated by because they weren’t prepared.

“Terrified. The thought of dealing with pregnant laboring people in the emergency department without the proper resources with no way to do an emergent c section if we needed to. No anesthesiology, no epidurals,” she said.

When Legacy first announced the closure, they said it was because the center maintained a low volume of births with a high-cost care rate. The community, nurses and parents spoke out against it demanding it stays open. Suarez said their voices led to this outcome.

“Zach Hudson and Ruiz’s office have been instrumental in this and the community and the nurses and other hospital staff that demanded something different and took action. I’m super, super thankful for them and I know that if that wasn’t the case, had we not done that, this would’ve looked very differently,” Suarez said.

Now, the OHA denied Legacy’s request for a waiver to temporarily close the center. Legacy said they’re working with them to resolve their findings and said “Our goal throughout this process was to transition the Mount Hood Family Birth center to a new, safe, financially sustainable care model. We believe that East County needs and deserves labor and delivery services within the community.”

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They said they’ll welcome pregnant patients within the next 90 days and the center will be staffed with labor and delivery trained physicians and nurses.

If and when the birth center reopens, Weathers said they’re going to have a big challenge ahead of them and that will start with an apology from Legacy.

“It’s not just the community’s trust, it’s the employees. Legacy has a lot of work to do,” Weathers said. “It’s their turn to come show their face and say they made a poor decision.”