Beverly Hospital's North Shore Birth Center

Beverly Hospital says it is pausing its plans to close the North Shore Birth Center.

BEVERLY — The City Council is calling on Beverly Hospital to reconsider its plan to close the North Shore Birth Center.

All nine city councilors this week signed a public statement asking the hospital to keep the center open. The statement said closing the center works against the community’s efforts to “increase access, remove barriers, and create meaningful equity in our city, our schools, and across our community.”

Beverly Hospital announced last month that it plans to close the North Shore Birth Center on Sept. 8 due to lack of staffing. The center, which is on the hospital campus, is staffed by midwives and is the only facility of its kind in eastern Massachusetts.

The announcement has sparked the reactivation of The Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center, which first formed in 2008 in response to a plan to close the center at that time. A petition started by the group on Monday on change.org had nearly 1,400 signatures on Wednesday afternoon.

Susannah Ketchum Glass, a member of the group who lives in Beverly, spoke to the City Council at its meeting on Monday night at City Hall and urged councilors to help with the effort to keep the center open.

“The North Shore Birth Center is a community treasure,” Ketchum Glass told councilors. She called the center “a place where miracles happen.”

“We must save it,” she said.

Beverly City Council President Julie Flowers and Ward 6 Councilor Todd Rotondo introduced the statement in support of the Birth Center at Monday night’s meeting. All nine councilors have signed the statement, according to the City Clerk’s office.

The statement said the Birth Center provides an affordable option for many patients, and is particularly important for Black and Indigenous women, who are at increased risk for negative outcomes around maternal care and birthing. It pointed to a study by the Massachusetts Commission on Racial Inequities in Maternal Health that calls for more free-standing birth centers to be open.

“Centers like the North Shore Birth Center offer additional accessible points of contact and care for those who are underserved or feel unable or unsafe to access care and support within traditional health care models,” the statement said.

Members of the Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center met with Beverly Hospital President Tom Sands last week and asked him to pause the regulatory process that is required to close the center. The group said it would like to collaborate with the hospital on long-term solutions to keep the center open.

A spokesperson for Beverly Hospital said the hospital, which is part of Beth Israel Lahey Health, had no comment on the City Council’s statement. The hospital reiterated its position that it is no longer possible to sustainably operate the program in the long term.

The Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center said it is planning to hold a community rally at Beverly Hospital on Monday, June 13, from noon to 1 p.m. at the intersection of Herrick Street and the main entrance to the hospital.

Staff Writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

Staff Writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

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