Acting on the recommendation of a task force made up of providers and community members, the St. Charles Health System Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to close the St. Charles Redmond Family Birthing Center next summer.
“This was not an easy decision to make,” said Board Chairman Dan Schuette. “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. By closing the Redmond birthing center, we’ll not only be able to further enhance the services we provide to mothers and babies throughout Central Oregon, but also we’ll be able to invest in areas we heard are badly needed for women like behavioral health and geriatric services.”
As part of the changes to women’s and newborn’s services, an obstetric hospitalist program will be created at the Bend hospital to provide care for laboring patients and manage obstetric emergencies, which has been shown to improve clinical outcomes. Midwifery services will also be added, allowing women with low-risk pregnancies to have additional labor support. In Madras, resources will be provided to enhance nursing skill and education. The St. Charles Center for Women’s Health in Redmond will remain open to provide prenatal and gynecologic services.
The health system will also work hard to minimize the impact to caregivers who work in the Redmond birthing center.
“We’re going to make sure our caregivers have every opportunity to move into a job they feel good about,” said Iman Simmons, St. Charles’ chief operating officer. “No one is going to lose their employment.”
The health system’s leadership team made the recommendation to the board of directors to close the Redmond birthing center after a task force spent 10 months evaluating the women’s and newborn’s service line. That group found the health system’s three birthing center’s in Bend, Madras and Redmond are usually at less than 50 percent capacity and that the low volumes led to staffing challenges.
In reviewing demographic data, the task force also found that over the next 25 years there will be an increase in women who are ages 45 to 65, reducing the demand for birthing services in the region.
“Combining birthing services in Bend will make for a more efficient, high-quality care model for our region,” said Dr. Barbara Newman, a board-certified OB-GYN and medical director of the St. Charles Center for Women’s Health in Redmond. “And it’s safe. A large body of research suggests that drive time of an hour or less to a birthing center is reasonable. Our Bend hospital also has a NICU, which means babies born there are going to have immediate access to a very high level of care.”
In the coming months, the health system will begin working on its implementation plan, including hiring additional staff and determining the future use of the 12-bed family birthing unit in Redmond.
“We’re going to partner with our caregivers throughout this process to ensure this is an effective transition,” Simmons said. “Working together, we’re going to provide the best care possible for our mothers and babies.”
About St. Charles Health System
St. Charles Health System, Inc., headquartered in Bend, owns and operates St. Charles Bend, Madras, Prineville and Redmond. It also owns family care clinics in Bend, Madras, Prineville, Redmond and Sisters. St. Charles is a private, not-for-profit Oregon corporation and is the largest employer in Central Oregon with more than 4,200 caregivers. In addition, there are more than 350 active medical staff members and nearly 200 visiting medical staff members who partner with the health system to provide a wide range of care and service to our communities.