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St. Charles Redmond birthing center may merge into Bend’s


There could be changes coming to the birthing center at St. Charles Redmond — and a leading option is to merge with the Bend facility.

NewsChannel 21 heard recently from viewers about possible changes, so we checked Wednesday with St. Charles Chief Operating Officer Iman Simmons to find out what’s going on.

Simmons said it’s true that St. Charles is looking at other options for the birthing center. The reason is partly due to the high cost associated with operating a birthing center, as well as the fact that both the Redmond and Bend birthing centers are generally at less than 50 percent occupancy.

St. Charles collaborated with Indian Health Services, Deschutes County Public Health, East Cascades Women’s Group and Central Oregon OB/GYN to come up with proposal for the Redmond Birthing Center.

The option getting the most attention is a recommendation to merge the St. Charles Redmond birthing center with the St. Charles Bend facility on the Bend campus, with enhanced services.

“It incrementally lowers the cost of care to our patients,” Simmons said. “Health care has an affordability problem, in that prices keep increasing for our patients — and that’s not sustainable. It’s not sustainable nationally, and it’s not sustainable in Central Oregon at St. Charles.”

This proposal would allow for an incremental cost reduction year after year in order to maintain a sustainable program over the next five to 10 years, she said.

“Right now, at St. Charles, if you deliver (a baby) in our program, we’re nearly twice as expensive as the least expensive program in the state of Oregon,” Simmons said. “We know this, and we know we have to make hard decisions as to how to pivot in this landscape.”

Officials said no decision has been made yet, so nothing is changing right now — but they expect to decide on the future path eby the end of the year.

There’s already been a response from some people unhappy with the possibility of the Redmond facility’s departure.

Wednesday afternoon, NewsChannel 21 learned of a petition circulating in Prineville, where there is no birthing center, to keep the Redmond facility open.

Hospital officials also stressed that no birthing center employees would lose their jobs if the proposal is adopted.

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