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EDITORIAL: Why Troy matters

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By PARRY TEASDALE

THIS WEEK WE’RE PUBLISHING a letter from six regional officeholders. It’s addressed to State Attorney General Letitia James. It’s printed next to this column. It’s not long. The officeholders don’t want to see a facility called the Burdett Birth Center closed. The birth center is located at Samaritan Hospital in the City of Troy. Why would we care?

The Burdett Birth Center (BBC) serves mostly Troy, Albany and the surrounding communities, but its service area stretches south into all of Columbia County. It’s probably true that most expectant mothers in Ancram, Taghkanic or Germantown do not drive to Troy to give birth. Instead, they head for Kingston or Rhinebeck or other relatively nearby facilities. But they cannot go to Columbia Memorial Health. That hospital shuttered its birthing units several years ago.

So the options in much of this county are one of the two major hospitals: Albany Medical Center or St. Peter’s Health Partners… Or the BBC at Samaritan Hospital. There seems to be a presumption that pregnant women or their physicians will choose the bigger facilities. That’s likely. But consider the Town of Kinderhook, which is the biggest town in Columbia County by population. As standards go around here, it’s not far from Troy.

But the overriding goal now is to keep Samaritan’s BBC in Troy as a functioning anchor service available to the public. And it sounds like the elected officials are pressing the attorney general to act. As the letter to Attorney General James says, “The office of the NYS Attorney General has reviewed hospital consolidations in the past and we believe that in this case it is warranted.”

The language is polite but it doesn’t mask what’s at stake.

Also, Trinity Health, the company that oversees St. Peter’s Health Partners and includes Samaritan Hospital, is a customer of Capital Region Independent Media.

At the end of the letter the officials acknowledge that the decision to close the birth center has been made but they were willing to persist. They wrote, “It does not appear to us that best efforts were made to avoid the closure, but instead that it had been planned. This issue deserves a closer look due to the detrimental impact across the Capital Region and most importantly when we consider the maternal mortality rates, especially among Black and Brown birthing people.”

That’s the story, repeated once again: cut services for those who need them most but can pay the least.

Or is it? Shortly before press deadline we received a web address to a site that explains St Peter’s side of why it is planning to close BBC.

https://www.sphp.com/_campaigns/maternity-services-at-samaritan/home

For those who could be impacted by the closure, the website is worth visiting. But as the elected officials call for, let’s let the attorney general decide whether the proposed closure plan meets the letter of the law.

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