Officials criticize hospital survey about shutting down birthing services in Rensselaer County
Rachel Silberstein reports in the Times Union that local elected officials are upset about a survey conducted by a firm hired by St. Peter’s Health Partners to hear about the impact of the proposed closure of their hospital system’s birth center they say was confusingly worded, not widely publicized, and only available for a short time. Closing the Burdett Birthing Center in Troy would leave no birth services in Rensselaer County, while Columbia and Greene counties also lack any birthing centers. Columbia Memorial Health in Hudson gave up hosting birthing mothers in 2019. Assemblymember John T. McDonald and Troy Mayor Patrick Madden want more opportunities for public input on the proposed closure of the Burdett Birthing Center in Troy. Madden said, “During this first-of-its-kind health equity impact assessment, it is important for the state to establish precedent for what constitutes an appropriate standard for robust community engagement.... I am not impressed with the way they have conducted this community survey.” Officials from St. Peter’s say the birthing center has been losing $2.3 million annually, and duplicates services offered at the health system’s nearby Albany location. But while another hospital may be fairly close, anyone taking public transportation from many parts of Rennselaer County have a long trip. McDonald and Madden wrote in a joint letter to state Health Commissioner James V. McDonald, saying, “There must be additional opportunities for the public to provide input on this proposed closure plan, and we urge the Department of Health to engage with us to solicit this community input before the conclusion of the health equity impact assessment.” Read the full story in the Times Union.