ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Rensselaer County’s only birthing center will close even after a community outcry to keep the facility open. The Burdette Birth Center will close by spring 2024 if the NYS Department of Health (DOH) signs off on the closure plan. Elizabeth Gray is a Burdett Birth Center patient worried about the community’s impact.

“It worries me because it would affect our community more broadly,” Gray said. “When those care disparities start to present themselves as a result of losing this resource, it affects our community really deeply.”

On Monday, the hospital released its Health Equity Impact Assessment (HEIA), which details patient impact. Rozara Sanders is with The Save The Burdett Birth Center Coalition and says the coalition will release their HEIA on Tuesday for review.

“I’m hoping to see the DOH deny their certificate of need and to read over our Health Equity Impact Assessment,” she said.

The coalition calls St. Peter’s report a failure to address the significant challenges realistically.
The report surveyed 750 people, of which 98 percent were against the closure. Among the issues, transportation was number one because not all patients have a car, and many depend on public transportation.

Advocates said patients would have a 20-minute drive to the St. Peter’s Albany location to give birth. Other issues included the accessibility of midwives and pre and post-natal care. But Dr. Steven Hanks, President and CEO of Trinity Health New York, said those services will not be affected.

“We are not eliminating care for any single patient,” he said. “Everyone will still have access to all the physicians and midwives they have always had access to. The pre-natal, post-natal, and emergency care…will all still be provided- right where it’s always been provided in Rensselaer County. And the only thing that’s changing is the site of birth.”

The report also recommended that the hospital offer free and discounted patient transportation. But Rozara Sanders still hopes other moms will have the same convenient care she did.

“And we just had the most incredible experience there. And you know, St. Peter’s can say that they’re willing to integrate a midwifery model of care, but saying that… Putting those words out there and changing the culture are two very different things,” she said.

The state DOE still has to sign off on the final approval, and the center would close by June 30th, 2024.