Hearing begins for proposed birthing center

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Associated Press

Posted on February 21, 2013 at 2:01 PM

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) — A hearing has begun in Frankfort to examine a proposal to open the first alternative birthing center in the state.

J. Guthrie True, an attorney for certified nurse midwife Mary Carol Akers, told state officials that the facility would offer a needed choice in Hardin County, but three area hospitals are opposing the move, citing concerns about safety and duplication of services.

The hearing will determine whether the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family will issue a certificate of need for the facility. The certificate is required by state officials to safeguard against having too many health care facilities.

The News-Enterprise (http://bit.ly/VOw4YR) reports that opponents of the project offered much of the testimony Wednesday, but that the hearing is expected to continue through Friday.

The Visitation Birth and Family Wellness Center would provide a different option to low-risk, pregnant women who want natural births in a home-like setting.

True said there's no choice for expectant mothers to have babies except in hospitals or at home in possibly unsafe conditions.

"Women are entitled to have the choice of where to have their child," he said.

Matt Klein, an attorney representing Hardin Memorial Health in Elizabethtown and Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center in Leitchfield, said the main concern is safety — doctors aren't comfortable partnering with the center to take in emergency situations.

Dr. Stephen Toadvine, vice president and chief medical officer at Hardin Memorial Health, quoted a letter from CEO Dennis Johnson, saying loss of business is not a factor in its opposition.

"The impact on our revenue would be negligible," he said.

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Information from: The News-Enterprise, http://www.thenewsenterprise.com

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