Area Legislators, Caregivers, Health and Community Advocates to Attend Forum in Hopes of Mobilizing a Campaign to Convince UMass Health to Reverse This Dangerous Effort to Deprive Two Gateway Cities of Local Access to Maternity Care for the Most Vulnerable
When: Thursday, June 29 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Where: Congregation Agudat Achim Synagogue, 268 Washington St., Leominster MA
LEOMINSTER, MA – In response to a controversial plan by UMass Memorial Health to close the Birthing Center at Leominster Hospital — the only maternity program serving the gateway cities of Leominster and Fitchburg — a group of concerned residents, former patients, community advocates and health professionals have joined together to form “Community United to Save Our Birthing Center,” a grassroots coalition dedicated to waging a campaign to convince UMass Memorial Health and CEO Erik Dickson of the need to preserve this vital service for vulnerable mothers and newborns in these communities.
To launch this effort, the Coalition is hosting a public forum on June 29th to inform residents of these communities about the closure plan and the potentially devastating impact of this closure, to allow community members to share their concerns about the closure, and to mobilize broad based support and actions needed to save this essential service.
The forum will feature presentations by area legislators about the closure plan, from maternity nurses who work at the center and from community advocates serving populations placed most at risk by the loss of the service.
“The loss of this service will jeopardize the health of mothers and newborns in our community, leaving mothers to deliver in overcrowded emergency rooms or on the side of highways as they try reach alternative services in Gardener and Worcester,” said Eladia Romero, a board member with the Spanish American Center, who serves as a co-chair of the Community United coalition. “It’s going to take all of us working together to save this service.”
“The news of this closure feels like a knife in the back of our community. Especially for our poor and BIPOC community. We all know that these are the people who will suffer most. My own daughter gave birth at Leominster and barely survived the delivery. If she had needed to travel to Worcester, it is likely she would have died,” said Irene Hernandez, a member of the Pocasset Wampanoag Tribe of the Pokanoket Nation and co-chair of the coalition.
“Once again, we are as a community in the position of begging for the basic services that our tax dollars fund. We need state leadership to step in and hold nonprofit hospitals accountable” stated Susan Buchholz, Ashburnham resident, community advocate and Bloomberg Johns Hopkins MPH Fellow
As part of the campaign, the Coalition has launched a petition drive for community members and supporters to register their support for the Birthing Center, which will be shared with UMass Memorial Health, the Department of Public Health and other officials, urging them to rescind this dangerous plan, and to preserve this vital service. Click here to view the petition: bit.ly/LeominsterMaternity.