GRESHAM, Ore. — Legacy Health has announced plans to close its Family Birth Center at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center in Gresham, citing a shortage of workers and financial losses in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning March 17, pregnant patients who arrive at the hospital's emergency department will be transferred to Randall Children's Hospital or other local hospitals, according to Legacy officials.
"We understand that this a difficult and unanticipated change for our staff, providers, patients, the East County community, and for Legacy Health," the hospital said in a statement.
The closure will take place pending approval by the State of Oregon, according to hospital officials. They will also seek guidance on a plan for a temporary or permanent closure.
In their statement, Legacy Health explained more about the process that led to the decision:
"For the last several months, we have been reviewing our operations across our system to identify areas for improvement. The Family Birth Center at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center stood out because it maintains a low volume of births with an unusually high-cost care model.
We explored all possible options to continue operating the Family Birth Center to deliver safe, quality care in a cost-efficient and sustainable model. Unfortunately, we could not identify a model that met all the criteria for Legacy and our providers."
Several community members expressed frustration over the decision to close the birth center. By email, Gresham City Council President Sue Piazza told KGW, "This is a huge loss and disappointment to our city... today Gresham is the 4th largest city in Oregon, we are the most diverse and have a large undeserved population. Gresham and our neighboring cities of Sandy, Troutdale, Fairview and Wood Village need Legacy Mt. Hood to reconsider this decision."
According to The Oregonian, Legacy officials had tried to restructure Mt. Hood's birth center and lower its costs. But then four of the birth center's seven doctors quit over dissatisfaction with the restructuring plans. Legacy officials said that left them with little choice but to close.
KGW reached out to the City of Gresham for a response. By email, city spokesperson Sarah Cagann wrote "We look forward to working with Legacy and ensuring our community has access to this important need."
Each of the more than 50 staff at the birth center will be transferred to other positions in the Legacy system, according to Legacy Health.