Historical Timeline of the Nurse Midwifery Birth Center
Lane County, Oregon
From the 1970s to the Present
Late 1970s: Irene Nielson, Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), opened a free-standing birth center in Cottage Grove. The birth center was the third ever to open in the US.
Early 1980s: Cindy Kaufman CNM and Ida Laserson CNM opened the Nurse Midwifery Birth Center in Eugene. Initially they did birth center births and home-births. They collaborated with Dr. Randy Lewis, OB/GYN who worked with Eugene Hospital and Clinic. Through the support of Dr. Lewis, the midwives were able to obtain hospital privileges and start attending hospital births as well.
1991: The Nurse Midwifery Birth Center stopped attending home-births; however, CNM attended births in the free-standing birth center and in the hospital continued.
1993: The State of Oregon passed Senate Bill 479 which stated that all Nurse Practitioners (including CNMs) could be given independent hospital admitting privileges.
1995: The Eugene Hospital and Clinic was bought by PeaceHealth. The midwives were notified that their jobs were being terminated and that the birth center would close. The community responded passionately in support of the birth center. As a result of the community advocacy, PeaceHealth hired the midwives and agreed to keep the birth center open.
1997-1998: The Prenatal Clinic (a clinic created in 1987 to serve families without health insurance who otherwise might not receive prenatal care), moved under the Nurse Midwifery Birth Center services. They maintained two separate clinics with care provided by the same midwife group. The Nurse Midwifery Birth Center obtained World Health Organization Baby Friendly Certification and Accreditation from the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers.
2008: PeaceHealth opened Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield. When the Nurse Midwifery Birth Center staff realized that PeaceHealth did not include the birth center in their building plans, the birth center staff and community launched a campaign to save the birth center led by Dr. Randy Lewis, the CNMs, and the Lane County Friends of the Birth Center. The Gibson Family, owners of Lochmead Farms, became the lead donor of the fundraising campaign to build the new birth center.
2010: The new Nurse Midwifery Birth Center opened in May on Deadmond Ferry Road in Springfield. The midwives remained PeaceHealth employees. They also continued to work in the Prenatal Clinic as well which was now located in the Lane County Health & Human Services building in downtown Eugene.
2019: In May, PeaceHealth announced their intention to close the Nurse Midwifery Birth Center practice. This included ending both the birth center and hospital practice of the CNMs. Birth Center births were no longer allowed after August 31, 2019.
2019: In October, Our Community Birth Center, a new nonprofit nurse midwifery birth center in Lane County, made a public announcement of their plans to restore birth center services and launched their Capital Fundraising Campaign. Our Community Birth Center’s goal is to continue the decades long tradition of safe and accessible care for families in a community-based nurse midwifery birth center.