U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have asked the St. Alphonsus Health System to keep open the only maternity unit in Baker County Oregon a little longer.
It’s scheduled to close July 31.
In a letter to the health system leadership, Wyden and Merkley say they’re concerned that expectant parents will have to travel 45 miles through a mountain pass that is treacherous in winter to receive maternity care.
And they say large employers in Baker City are concerned that it will be nearly impossible to recruit staff with growing families if there’s no maternity care in town.
The senators are asking St. Alphonsus to keep the unit open for six more months to buy the community time to find a long term solution.
They say governor Kotek has offered to expedite licensing for travel nurses and a federal public health team might be able to send nurses to the town to get the hospital through its immediate staffing crisis.
St. Alphonsus is owned by one of the largest Catholic Health Systems in the country, Trinity Health. Trinity declined to comment. The senators have asked for a response to their letter by next week.