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UMass Birthing Center closes in Leominster; "devastating to the community"

UMass birthing center closes in Leominster; "devastating to the community"
UMass Birthing Center closes in Leominster; "devastating to the community" 02:08

LEOMINSTER - The clock has run out for the Birthing Center at UMass Memorial Health Alliance-Clinton Hospital in Leominster. It closed its doors for good on Saturday night. 

The news is devastating for new mother Chrystyna Lillie. 

"It's absolutely devastating to the community and there are so many women who are going to suffer now because of it," Lillie said.

Lillie was pregnant with her daughter Solara when she heard about the announcement earlier this summer. She actually had to have an emergency C-section at the birthing center. She says having this access saved her and her baby's life.

"I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the Leominster Birthing Center," Lillie said.

UMass cites staffing levels, patient safety and declining birth rates for closing the center.

On Friday a community of families and nurses, local leaders and community activists held a vigil outside the hospital. Hoping for a 11th hour intervention to save the birthing center.

Politicians have begged UMass to reconsider, even the department of health says their transition plan which includes curb to curb transportation to other hospitals wasn't good enough. 

"The department of public health said that this is an essential service. They have issues with the plan UMass Memorial brought forward and then they just let the run out the clock so you know there's no relief for families who are going to be devastated by this," State Senator John Cronin said.

Governor Maura Healey refused to use her executive powers to keep the birth center open. She did order a review of maternal health services across the state.

UMass Memorial CEO, Eric Dickson says closing the center is heartbreaking but they don't have enough staff to operate it safely. 

"It is not in the best interest of our patients and is something we are not willing to do regardless of the political pressure and damaging headlines," said Dickson in a statement.

Many patients fear that cutting these services will also have a devastating impact during vulnerable times like the recent Leominster floods. 

"The flooding there's no way anyone would've made it out of Leominster to even get to another hospital," Lillie said.

Now families depending on the birthing center will have no choice but to go to another hospital.

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