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Legacy pushes back Gresham birth center reopening

The health system indicated it has made progress in securing staff for the birth center and has submitted its plans to regulators
The closure of Legacy's Mount Hood birth center was marked with a vigil on March 17, 2023. | JAKE THOMAS/THE LUND REPORT
June 13, 2023

Legacy Health will delay its planned reopening of the maternity unit at its Gresham hospital after regulators raised questions about the health system’s plans. 

The health system announced on Friday that it would not meet its goal of welcoming patients back to the maternity unit at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center, which serves the less affluent and more diverse communities of east Multnomah County and Mt. Hood. 

The delay is the result of the Oregon Health Authority requesting “additional information” before it could approve the reopening, according to a statement from Legacy. 

“After conversations with OHA, we have decided to wait until we have an approved plan before we welcome patients,” reads the statement. “We will re-submit our plan today, and our plans to welcome patients will remain on hold until our plan is approved. While we do not have an exact timeline for the approval, we expect it will take at least one week.”

Legacy spokesperson Ryan Frank declined to share the plan with The Lund Report. 

The delay is the latest bad news for Legacy, which has faced a steady drumbeat of criticism after announcing it would close the maternity center in January in response to declining births and staffing challenges that it said made it unviable. After carrying through on plans to close the maternity unit in March without state approval, Legacy announced about a month later it would reopen

At the time, the health authority warned Legacy it had not authorized the closure and the health system could face repercussions. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a blistering 66-page inspection report finding that Legacy’s closure of the maternity unit put patients in potential danger. 

Legacy’s statement on Friday indicated it “respects the authority” of state and federal regulators and that an interdisciplinary team from across the health system has “worked diligently for two months on staffing and facilities plans.”

“We have scheduled round-the-clock care staffing with certified nurse midwives, supported by obstetrics and gynecology physicians, anesthesiologist physicians and labor and delivery nurses,” reads the statement. “We will keep all members of our care teams employed and scheduled as planned and ready to go as soon as we receive the OK from our government partners.”

You can reach Jake Thomas at [email protected] or via Twitter @jakethomas2009.