TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Zanetta Graham became a mom at Burdett Birth Center in 2017 and wishes everyone could have the same experience as her. Graham says black women suffer from a maternal mortality rate that is three times higher than white women but Burdett made her feel seen, heard and comforted.
“I cannot tell you how much that really eased my anxiety and how good that felt as a person of color to go and see where I am going to be giving birth, this really really intimate experience,” said Graham.
But that kind of birthing experience could come to an end under a proposal to close the facility.
“There’s already a crisis. Our lives are already in danger. We are already underserved. We are already mistreated. That closing would just exacerbate that issue that already exists and that breaks my heart,” said Graham.
Graham shared her experience at a public forum held by the Save Burdett Birth Center Coalition, where community advocates took matters into their own hands Wednesday night.
Coalition organizer Liz Addeo says St. Peter’s Health Partners submitted a proposal to close the birthing center back in June.
“One after another closing because birth isn’t big business and unfortunately in this country healthcare is a business and they don’t have the resources to remain open,” said Graham.
St. Peter’s health partners proposed closing the unit because of financial losses, totaling more than two million dollars in 2022.
Addeo said the closure proposal was submitted days before a new state law went into effect that would have required a health equity impact assessment.
“But that is not going to happen. They are doing this limited review, which does not include that forum so we decided as a coalition that we were going to do our own forum,” said Addeo.
The closure would seriously limit birthing options, Addeo said. “It’s so sad for the community as a whole. Birth is not just about the people who are giving birth,” she said.
Concerned community members said the closure would have an impact on everyone by putting strains on fire departments and hospitals.
Rensselaer County executive Steven McLaughlin wrote a letter to the New York State Department of Health Commissioner James McDonald urging an immediate cancellation of the closure proposal.
“I don’t think that if Burdett is allowed to close it’s going to be closing quietly,” said Addeo.
The coalition is not ruling out legal action and is waiting to see how the state responds.