All women, babies and families have a fundamental human right to healthy, safe and respectful maternity care.
On Monday, August 12, the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) closed in-patient labor and delivery services at North Central Bronx Hospital (NCBH). The staff and community were only given three days’ notice of the closure, and no opportunity to have their voices heard.
Closing labor and delivery services at NCBH will have dangerous repercussions for low-income women and families in the Bronx, including an unacceptable gap in access to safe and respectful obstetric services.
Last year, there were 1,500 deliveries at NCBH. HHC has stated that they transfer these patients to the neighboring sister hospital, Jacobi Medical Center. However, Jacobi Hospital already has an overburdened labor and delivery unit. The reality is that the closure will result in unacceptable pressure on all neighboring Bronx hospitals.
Low-income mothers and families will face the brunt of this negative impact. They will experience decreasing quality of services, will have to travel even further to give birth, and will lose vital community-based, women-centered care. There is further concern in the community that, as has been the case with recent hospital closures in Brooklyn, shutting labor and delivery services at NCBH is potentially the first step toward shutting down the entire facility. This is part of a larger pattern of a culture of disregard towards healthcare access for low-income communities.
Sadly, this closure marks the end of an award-winning, midwife-led program that has served some of New York City’s most at-risk and underserved families for the last 36-years. In 2002, the midwifery program at NCBH received the American College of Nurse Midwives’ With Women for a Lifetime Commendation award for innovative and compassionate midwifery care practices. It has also been heralded as a national model for replication. Despite the positive impact of the midwifery services at NCBH, HHC has consistently undermined the program. In 2009, services were dramatically cut back, midwives were laid off and the midwifery model of continuity of care was completely disrupted. This resulted in an astonishing 90% increase in cesarean sections between 2008 (15.9% - the lowest in the city) and 2012 (30%).
HHC sited safety concerns at Jacobi as their excuse for the closing. Rather than addressing staff shortages at Jacobi with new hires, leadership decided to end a thriving practice at NCB and transfer all staff to Jacobi.
Tell Bloomberg, HHC and the NYS Department of Health that this closure is an outrage! Destroying a thriving program and leaving thousands of low-income families without easy and safe access to quality care is not the answer.
HHC must reopen labor and delivery services at North Central Bronx Hospital!