Closure of Mount Sinai West’s Birthing Center Further Limits NYC Women’s Care Options

Last week, Mount Sinai West announced that their birthing center is scheduled to be shuttered in January 2019, after 22 years of providing quality maternity care. The closure of the birthing center will leave only one option for an in-hospital birthing center in all of New York City, where there are about 120,000 births every year.

Eliminating Mount Sinai West’s much sought-after birth center will reduce the options available for high value, low intervention maternity care in New York City. Besides the sole remaining in-hospital birth center at New York-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital, there are just two freestanding birth centers, both located in Brooklyn. Typically staffed by midwives, birth centers can be a safe, cost-effective option for healthy low-risk pregnancies and low-intervention births.

Options for a woman-centered, midwifery model of care during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period are dwindling in New York City, even though the midwifery model is a proven high value, quality approach to maternity care. Currently, half of the hospitals in New York City have 0% of births attended by midwives, and only four hospitals in the city have midwives attending more than 50% of births.

The closure of the MSW Birthing Center reflects a larger, long-term trend of hospital closures and a dramatic reduction of options. Between 1995 and 2003, 14 hospitals in New York State stopped providing maternity care services and between 2003 and 2011, at least five additional hospitals or birth centers in and around New York City closed their doors.

In just the last year, Beth Israel Hospital closed their midwifery practice after merging with Mount Sinai. Bellevue Hospital, part of New York City’s Health and Hospital system cut their midwifery services, and midwives are no longer providing care around the clock. As a result, clients of midwives cannot be sure they can have a midwife attend their birth.

The Bellevue Birth Center, the only birth center in the city’s public hospital system was shut down in 2009. It had served low-income and mostly Chinese- or Spanish-speaking immigrant women, but now sits empty, despite the facility’s data demonstrating excellent outcomes.

All women, babies and families have a fundamental human right to healthy, safe and respectful maternity care, and every mother should be able to choose the environment in which they want to give birth. Tell Mount Sinai Health System’s leadership that closing the birth center is not the answer by adding your voice to those calling to keep the birth center open at Mount Sinai West!

Please call the Patient Representatives at Mount Sinai West (9am — 5pm Monday through Friday) at (212) 523–7225 or (212) 523–7228. Let them know how you feel about the decision to close the birth center.

And then sign the petition asking Mount Sinai’s leadership to keep the birth center open.

Topics: Childbirth, Maternal Health, Pregnancy