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ELYRIA, Ohio (WJW)– For Morgan Waccholz of Amherst, the birthing center at University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center is much more than a unit in a hospital.

“It’s small and it feels like a family. They really helped me, like life and death helped me, and it made a huge difference in my second delivery,” Waccholz said.

So Waccholz decided to start an online petition when she discovered UH’s plan to close the center and consolidate labor and delivery at St. John Medical Center in Westlake. More than 3,000 people have signed the petition on

“They are there in your corner to give you the type of delivery you want to have,” Waccholz said.

Julie Cajigas, of Akron, sought out the center’s renowned lactation consultants.

“I would drive 45 minutes. The center changed my experiences with all three of my children and allowed me to feed all three. I owe a huge debt to the nurses there,” Cajigas said.

The news came as a shock to Dr. Rema Bachuwa, chief of OB/GYN at Elyria Medical Center. She said the move will affect 40 nurses along with staff.

“Honestly, one of the hardest things to see is this great team of nurses is being broken up,” Bachuwa said.

Bachuwa is also concerned about the expectant mothers who will have to travel to deliver their babies.

“A lot of these people are at higher risk. It’s a population underserved and they have more complications. Things need to be done within minutes. It scares me,” Bachuwa said.

UH acknowledged those concerns. Patti DePompei, president of UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital, released the following statement on Monday:

“We know that there will be concerns in the Elyria community about these changes but we’re confident that these moves will benefit all of our West market patients.  Experience nationally shows that outcomes and patient experience improve when the number of similar procedures performed at a facility increases. Higher volume care can also be provided at a lower cost, helping to keep health care more affordable for patients.”

UH went on to say all pre and post-natal care will still be provided at Elyria, along with existing breastfeeding services. UH added that delivery volume at Elyria has declined by 37 percent in the past decade.

The changes will take place over the next few months.

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