There will not be enough doctors available to offer labor and delivery services at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center in Gresham as of the close of day on March 17, according to information released by the hospital.
What started as an attempt to change the care model at the low-volume birth center, to get away from 24/7 obstetrics doctor staffing, became an argument with doctors, many of whom handed in their notices. By late January, Legacy leadership saw no path forward to keep the labor and delivery services operating in any form, according to their online statement. The center will continue to offer pre- and postnatal care for all pregnant patients, as well as maternal fetal medicine for high-risk outpatients.
A spokesperson for Legacy said Friday no one from the hospital was available to comment beyond already published statements.
Oregon Health Authority officials have not yet approved a request by Legacy to close the birth center for labor and delivery, according to an email sent to the hospital president. Until the waiver is reviewed and approved, the letter reads, the hospital is required to provide labor and delivery services. There was no timeline given for how long the review process might take.
For this reason, the hospital will technically be on “divert” status for delivery. That means that if someone shows up at the hospital’s doors in active labor, they will be sent on to another nearby hospital. There are five hospitals with labor and delivery services within 30 minutes of Legacy Mount Hood. The other nearby Legacy network hospital is Randall Children’s Hospital, which has a new birth center that opened in 2021.
A spokesperson for the Oregon Health Authority declined to comment beyond the agency’s already published statements about the situation.
Nurses at Legacy Mount Hood are in the midst of a unionizing campaign. Just two of Legacy’s eight hospitals have unions, according to a spokesperson. Many nurses object to dropping labor and delivery services. They said in a statement that staffing the center with obstetrics doctors on a 24/7 model is necessary for their patients, many of whom are low-income and speak languages other than English.
“At a time when women’s health is already under attack, it is irresponsible for Legacy to close the door on these women,” said Ginny Moyer, a labor and delivery nurse at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center, in a statement put out by the Oregon Nurses’ Association.
A candlelight vigil, organized by the nurses union, will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday in front of the Gresham medical center to commemorate the closing of the labor and delivery services there.