TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The controversial decision by Saint Peter’s Health Partners to close the Burdett Birth Center in Troy, Rensselaer County’s only remaining maternity unit, was the subject of a forum by Saint Peter’s Thursday night.

But unlike the September forum at Sage College held by Attorney General Tish James that lasted for nearly six hours and took statements in person from women who used Burdett services, first responders worried about an increase in ambulance calls and politicians from both parties who decried the cuts to women’s health care … the only voices heard in tonight’s online forum were from Saint Peter’s.

The President and CEO of Saint Peter’s Health Partners Dr. Steven Hanks says they understand the impact the closure would have on the city of Troy, patients and staff. They now expect it to happen in the first half of 2024.

Saint Peter’s cites multi-million dollar losses at Burdett and declining birth rates as the reasons for the closure. While pre-natal and post-natal services would remain in Rensselaer County, a major concern for patients is transportation for labor and delivery outside their home county.

Sheilah McCart, Manager of MOMS Program and Community Engagement Manager noted, “If patients are not eligible for Medicaid and they still are not able to secure transportation, Saint Peter’s Health Partners will arrange travel through Uber, Roundtrip and or Tech Valley, which is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We have also committed to hiring a transportation specialist who will partner with the MOMS program to solely focus on transportation issues for patients.”

Another major concern that came up during the question-and-answer session as viewers of the forum typed in their questions, which were asked by a Saint Peter’s employee, was the type of care they would receive at Saint Peter’s versus Burdett Birth Center: would the midwifery model of care be supported?

Certified Midwife Maureen Murphy said, “This collaborative model has given us some really great statistics at Burdett. We’ve spent many years building that model, and we don’t want to lose it, so we’ll do everything that we can to continue that model of care.”

When it came to questions of space and staffing, the Senior Vice President of Hospital Operations said they are in the middle of refurbishing the labor and delivery unit at Saint Peter’s and will be able to accommodate the two to three births they are expecting to add per day.

Viewers of the online forum whose questions were left unanswered will have responses on Saint Peter’s website, and a recording of the forum will be made available as well.

But Dr. Hanks said no additional forums are planned, and Saint Peter’s will shortly be submitting their closure plan to the Department of Health.