PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Gresham and Troutdale city leaders are fighting back against the impending closure of the region’s only family birth center.
Citing financial losses and staff shortages, Legacy Health announced earlier this week plans to close the East Multnomah County Center in March, forcing local expecting parents to travel into Portland to welcome their babies.
Former patients and current healthcare workers with the family birth center at Legacy Mount Hood joined city leaders in Gresham Thursday to discuss alternative pathways to help keep the operation open.
“The people who are least able to afford to get all the way to Emanuel, the mothers that are going to be on the bus, it brings me to tears,” said Cathy Keathley, Gresham-Barlow School District Board Director.
Legacy Health officials told KOIN 6 News they chose to close the Mt. Hood Center due to its sustained low volume of births and high care costs, stating in part “We explored all possible options to continue operating the family birth center to deliver safe, quality care in a cost-efficient and sustainable model. Unfortunately, we could not identify a model that met all the criteria for legacy and our providers.”
Gresham Council President Sue Piazza, who co-hosted the event, calls the closure heartbreaking for the entire community, saying it not only serves the city of Gresham, but also the neighboring communities.
New mom Micah Wilson said she gave birth to her daughter Onyx at the center within just two hours, saying she’s not sure she could have made it anywhere else.
“My water had broken, and if I didn’t have this option, I don’t know if I could have got to a facility fast enough and checked in and everything to deliver my baby. So, for me when I heard that it was closing, I was like, if I have another kid it’s supposed to be faster, where would I go? I’m not going to drive all the way out to Portland,” she said.
But Portland is exactly where Legacy Health says families will have to go, a commute can take more than 30 minutes with traffic.