Lorain County leaders urge University Hospitals to keep Elyria birthing center open

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ELYRIA, Ohio (WJW)– Lorain County leaders are asking University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center to keep its family birthing center open.

Elyria Mayor Frank Whitfield, Lorain Mayor Jack Bradley, Sheffield Village Mayor John Hunter and UH Elyria chief OB/GYN Dr. Rima Bachuwa urged the hospital system to maintain the birth center during an event Wednesday afternoon.

Whitfield said he was notified about UH’s decision last week and feels the cities in Lorain County were left out of the process.

“I was immediately taken aback, confused, shocked and had many questions about what was motivating this decision, why weren’t we included in the discussion and could there be an alternative,” Whitfield said.

He said a survey from the city about the birthing center generated more than 900 responses, from people in Elyria, Lorain, Grafton, Vermilion and Oberlin who shared their experiences. Some said they were worried that this is just the beginning on health services moving out of Lorain County.

“We empathize with companies that have to make tough business decisions. However, when we are considering the health of residents, in particular in life or death situations, that is what must come first,” Whitfield said.

Whitfield said this is the last non-Catholic birthing center in Lorain County. The next closet one is Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital, according to Bachuwa. Both cited concerns about expectant mothers having available transportation to get the medical attention they need.

Morgan Waccholz, of Amherst, started a petition on Change.org in her fight to keep the facility operating. It has more than 4,000 signatures.

“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.

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