Charlotte birthing center tells moms-to-be it’s closing. Here’s when and why

Birth centers where nurse midwives assist women during delivery are not licensed or regulated in North Carolina. State legislators could change that after an investigation into a Cary birth center.
Birth centers where nurse midwives assist women during delivery are not licensed or regulated in North Carolina. State legislators could change that after an investigation into a Cary birth center. N&O file photo

Baby+Co., a chain of birthing centers with doctors and certified nurse midwives, will close three North Carolina locations, including one in Charlotte.

“Market conditions and the payer landscape in North Carolina made these centers financially unsustainable,” according to a statement on the company’s website. Company officials did not elaborate in the statement on which market conditions hurt its NC centers or what they meant by “the payer landscape.”

In an email to their pregnant clientele Tuesday, the operators of the Charlotte location said it was ”with great sadness” they were announcing the center will close May 15. The center opened in November 2015, according to its Facebook page.

“We want you (to) know that we are committed to supporting every single one of you in this transition,” Erin Graham and Jessica Ewing wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by The Charlotte Observer.

Ewing told the Observer she could not comment beyond confirming that the closing date. Corporate officials have not replied to emailed questions from The Charlotte Observer this week or a phone message from The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

Baby+Co.’s other NC centers are in Cary and Winston-Salem, according to its website.

In their email, Graham and Ewing said they have contacted several local providers that accepting new clients, including:

  • Novant Health-Providence OB/GYN, which has certified nurse midwives on staff, 1718 E. 4th St., No. 907, Charlotte; 704-372-4000.
  • Novant Health-Carmel OB/GYN, which also has CNMs on staff, 5933 Blakeney Park Drive, No. 100, Charlotte; 704-316-2021.
  • Natural Beginnings Birth & Wellness Center, 1420 Fern Creek Drive, Statesville, 704-380-3722.

“There are a number of exceptional providers in the area and we will continue to reach out to them in the coming days to provide you all additional options,” Graham and Ewing wrote.

“Whether you have been with us for a few short weeks, months or through multiple pregnancies, we are grateful to each and every one of you for your role in strengthening our community,” according to Graham and Ewing’s email. “It was our honor to support you on this journey.”

Baby+Co. has cared for over 4,000 women and families in North Carolina, according to the company’s statement.

In March 2018, the Cary center temporarily stopped deliveries after the deaths of three newborns in six months, The News & Observer reported at the time.

The state found “significant problems” at the center, including inadequate medical oversight and supervision of nurse midwives, according to the News & Observer, but the company disputed each state finding.

In this week’s statement, Baby+Co. officials said they “are extremely proud of the quality of care and experiences we provided. Despite challenging market conditions, we have a proven track record for our innovative model of maternity care, while saving payers and families in North Carolina $27 million.”

The company statement listed these accomplishments by its centers that are closing:

  • C-section rates three times lower than the low-risk C-section rate in hospitals - 8 percent compared with 24 percent.
  • Pre-term birth rates a third of the statewide average 3 percent versus 10 percent.
  • Fetal and newborn mortality rate half the rate for low-risk births in hospitals, 0.42 percent compared with 0.64 percent.
  • Net promoter score of 90, “nearly unheard of in health care and well above labor and delivery average of 65,” according to the company statement.

“We understand the impact our decision has on patients and midwives and are committed to supporting them through this process,” according to the statement. “We remain committed to the cause of improving maternity care in the United States because the current system remains broken.”

Led by an increased demand for natural birthing options, Rex Hospital has credentialed its first midwife in over a decade. She in on call 24/7, until more midwives join her in delivering babies using time-tested methods to prevent complications.

Not your mom's maternity ward: how hospitals are changing as women demand different care. Midwives are becoming increasingly popular, as are modern Birth Centers which which bring all women's services under one roof and offer many new amenities

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