TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — After Saint Peter’s Hospital shared its assessment justifying the closure of the Burdett Birth Center, opposition is growing from the community and legislators on both sides of the aisle. And first responders continue voicing concerns about the timely transportation of laboring patients.
Advocates against the closure, like Katie Cook from Save Burdett Birth Center, said it would hurt underserved populations the most. Last year, 61% of births happened with patients on Medicaid.
“That’s a lot of births,” Cook said. “So that’s telling us that the women of Troy…there’s even more now on Medicaid, so they’re facing many barriers to everyday life.”
Those barriers include limited access to transportation, thereby increasing the number of calls for first responders. Eric Wisher, President of the Troy Uniform Firefighters Association, said they sometimes wait with patients in an ambulance for as much as two hours for a bed to be available in a hospital.
“I hope that doesn’t happen with maternity patients, but if they’re gonna be that much busier -there’s that potential,” Wisher said. “And then here we are, potentially delivering babies in the parking lot of a hospital.”
Katie Cook said this transportation issue will increase the stress for someone experiencing one of the most vulnerable moments of their life and that Saint Peter’s solution isn’t enough.
“22% of women in Troy don’t have access to a car,” Cook said. “And just putting travel vouchers and screening for women’s transportation needs isn’t enough.”
News10 reached out to Saint Peter’s Health Partners, and they said they are continuing to gather information from the community and will hold a public forum on November 9. But advocates say that a one-hour forum isn’t enough.
Regarding possible solutions, Cook said the NYS Department of Health has also rolled out managed care incentives to help fund hospitals with low c-section rates.
“Burdett is doing that,” Cook said. “So again, we call on St. Peter’s to reach out to the New York State Department of Health to see if they’re eligible for this program and try to stay open.”
Rensselaer County officials like Steven McLaughlin, County Executive for the county, want to remain hopeful and had this to say to hospital administrators…
“98% are opposed to this. Pay attention to the polling. Read the room,” McLaughlin said. “Figure a way to get this done because you are really negatively impacting this community.”
The public one-hour forum will be available online on November 9.