PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The closure of a health facility is under state scrutiny after Oregon health officials rejected Legacy Health’s request to close its Mount Hood Birth Center in Gresham on Wednesday.

But here’s the catch: Legacy already closed down the unit earlier this month.

The birth center remains closed Thursday, despite not having necessary approval from the Oregon Health Authority – meaning the hospital could face serious consequences.

OHA has opened an investigation into the closure, and says it had told Legacy it needed state approval to shut down the birthing center prior to its unauthorized closure on March 17.

Legacy says it shut down the birthing center due to staffing issues and put a “divert status” in place, directing future patients to Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland or the local ER.

The state says the Mount Hood Medical Center served more women needing urgent OB care than any other Legacy hospital. Many of the patients face health equity issues, and the state is not happy with the health facility’s plan to divert patients to Randall, nearly 17 miles away.

State leaders made it clear last night a shutdown is not acceptable.

Rachael Banks, OHA’s public health director, said the investigation will determine whether a violation was made.

“We would be there to work with Legacy and the federal government as needed to bring them back into compliance, which would mean offering those services at the family birthing center,” Banks said.

According to a statement from Legacy, it respects the state’s authority in this decision and will work with regulators to determine next steps. 

If a healthcare facility is found out of compliance with its state licensing requirements, it will have 90 days to fix it – or face a huge financial blow by losing the ability to bill Medicare and Medicaid.