Dear Birth Center Families and Friends,
Dorinda and I have something really important and exciting to share with you!
We are currently building a new birth center and plan to move in June 2018! The new building is located on Churchmans Road in Newark, within five minutes of Christiana Hospital.
Thousands of babies have been born at our present home and this house is full of countless wonderful memories. Often, as I walk into The Birth Center, I feel such love- love of the building itself, so homey and welcoming, love for the incredible staff, and love for the thousands of women who have blessed our corridors.
Why Are We Moving?
Dorinda and I have owned The Birth Center since 1999. The decision to move has been a difficult one. Our children grew up here. We have cared for so many families here. But, we have to relocate in order for TBC to remain an option for women when we retire.
Here is the long and short of it: The Birth Center, in its present location, does not meet current building regulations for birth centers in DE. We have been grandfathered in as existing business owners in this location, but would not be able to sell the business to new owners in the current location due to the State regulations. If we were to retire without moving, we would have to close our doors which would break our hearts.
Having faced a similar circumstance twenty years ago when we bought The Birth Center, we know that it is part of our life’s work. We have to do it! What choice do we have?
History of The Birth Center
The Birth Center was born in 1982. It was started by a pioneer and nurse-midwife named Edie Wonnell. Edie owned and operated TBC successfully for 14 years. In 1996, Edie retired and sold TBC to the local hospital. At the time of the sale, I was working at the hospital. TBC management fell to an OB/GYN at the hospital who became the director. I worked under the director and heard his dissatisfaction about having to be responsible for TBC. He told me that he planned to close TBC. At the time I had never worked in a birth center and had no idea how special it was.
As I began caring for women at TBC, I fell in love. I loved the families. I loved how women were given the freedom to birth how they chose. I loved how the partners were able to support their loved ones unencumbered. I loved how families were given the opportunity to make informed health care choices. I loved how TBC philosophy was holistic in its approach. I was spellbound. I had the bug.
After two years of ownership by the local hospital, the director presented his recommendation to the hospital to close The Birth Center.
As you could imagine, Dorinda and I were extremely upset. If TBC closed, this option would not be available to women in Delaware. We could not let this happen. We also knew the director’s recommendation was not based on the potential The Birth Center had. With owners that were invested in maintaining this option for women in Delaware, The Birth Center would be much more successful than what he had portrayed. During the two years that the hospital owned TBC, we had no voice. We knew what would turn things around, but we were not heard.
It was on a Friday that we were told TBC would be closing. That weekend Dorinda and I went home and did a lot of soul-searching. We could not imagine The Birth Center closing- for one thing, we had 50 pregnant women under our care at the time. But the thought of taking over ownership was scary. The following Monday, I met with the CEO of the hospital and shared with her my dossier that highlighted all the decisions that had been made that falsely painted TBC as a failed venture. I asked her to give us one year to turn things around. She refused. At that point, we told her that we were going to look into buying it. As overwhelming as buying a birth center was for Dorinda and me, we knew we had no other choice. We had to walk away from a good salary, put our homes on the line, and make it happen. Nineteen years ago we started with two midwives (Dorinda and me), a nurse (Peggy Lutes), a volunteer biller, and a receptionist. We now employ 27 women and 2 men!
Where We Are Today
So here we are again. The viability of TBC depends on moving.
Everyone here at TBC is committed to the birth center model of care. We believe in it and want the TBC to continue beyond Dorinda’s and my tenure. Although taking on such an adventure at this stage in our lives is again stressful and scary (and exciting all at the same time!), we know we must push forward.
We have spent the last two years searching for the perfect house, close to Christiana Care. At the end of our search, it became clear that we would have to build our new center. As much as we wanted to have TBC placed in a house, it was cost prohibitive because of the building regulations.
Our new address will be 620 Churchmans Road. Our new birth center is twice the size of our existing space! We will have three rooms that all have water birth tubs that women can labor and birth in if they choose, along with flexibility when we are busier. There will be two classrooms, three lactation rooms, and six exam rooms. There will be plenty of parking. Everything will be located on one floor. We will also have a nurse practitioner, Pam Poad, and a chiropractor, Andrea Moses, sharing space with us. We will be part of a larger integrative center which is currently coming together.
We involved the staff in developing the plans and look for the new center. Our goal is to give it the “warm & homey” feeling while also considering the natural flow of the space. We are really excited about it and hope you are too!
I know some of you are sad because your babies were born here- this move is bittersweet for us too. We plan to bring a few special things from our current house to honor the many women who had their babies with us, saw us for care, and supported us over the years. We can’t wait to help even more women through their journey in our new location!
There are a few events planned in the coming months to celebrate The Birth Center and say goodbye to our current building. We hope you will join us, stay tuned for details! For now, please share our exciting news with the community! If you are interested in helping with our move, join our Birth Center Volunteer Team Facebook group for updates on how to help!
Kathleen and Dorinda