BEVERLY, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Following an announcement from Beth Israel Lahey Health and Beverly Hospital last month, dozens of protestors gathered outside on Monday in opposition to the North Shore Birth Center's closure after its 42 years in service.
Protest advocates say the NSBC is a midwifery practice that has provided an out-of-hospital birth choice and health care setting, supporting the birth of nearly 10,000 babies since 1980.
WBZ's Karyn Regal attended the protest outside Beverly Hospital, where demonstrators held signs that read 'our community needs a birth center,' and 'save the NSBC.' United States Representative Seth Moulton, State Senator Joan Lovely, and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll made appearances at the event in support of the protest.
"There's really no place like it," said Brittany, a mother who had her baby born at the NSBC. "The midwives are just kind and generous and it's a very, very different experience from birthing in a hospital. The hospital is really clinical and at the birth center, they believe birth is a natural process."
"Why would anyone want to take this option away? We need this choice— if that is what women want," said Judy Maxfield, one of the first nurses to work at what would become the NSBC.
WBZ NewsRadio reached out to the Beverly Hospital for comment, who said staffing shortages played a substantial role in the decision.
"Beverly Hospital will continue to be a welcoming resource to women who are interested in seeing a midwife for their care. We recognize that the Birth Center has provided services that are valued by members of our community. We appreciate the opportunity hospital leaders had to meet with community residents to hear their perspectives and our commitment building upon our well-established and robust women’s health service offerings and incorporate as much as the Birth Center experience into the hospital labor and delivery setting," Beverly Hospital said in a statement.
Hospital officials say staffing shortages have been a struggle at the center for years, as the lack of consistent directors and leaders has hindered the recruitment process and retaining efforts for employees. The Beverly Hospital went on to say in their statement that the average length of time to fill a vacancy is eight months, time to complete required credentialing is two months, and training and evaluations take about three to six months.
WBZ's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports.