SHOW OF OPPOSITION
SPRUCE PINE – The outcry against ending labor and delivery services at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine seems to have not achieved its objective.
While more than 50 adults and children were actively protesting Mission Health’s proposal to move obstetrical services at BRRH to McDowell Hospital in Marion this past Monday, rumors began circulating that Mission Health’s board voted the same day to shut down the department as of Sept. 30.
A press conference was called for 10 a.m. Tuesday at which it was expected BRRH CEO Becky Carter would publicly announce the decision.
“I’m due in July and I’ll be delivering here at Blue Ridge Regional,” said Chelsea Wilson Thayer, of Bakersville, who was among the sign-wielding protesters gathered in the parking lot of Dr. Chad Smoker’s office across the road from BRRH. “I grew up here and then left for a while, but I came back not only because it’s home, but also because it’s home and has access to quality health care.”
Thayer has two sons, Beckett, 6 and 3-year-old Thayer, who was born 15 minutes after her water broke.
“If that happens when this one’s born, I won’t make it to Asheville or Marion,” Thayer said. “This service is crucial to women and families in this area. I am hoping maybe this outcry will help or at least buy enough time for Mission to let us respond.”
Area doctor Jerry Cade’s daughter, Emily, was among those protesting. She and her twin brother, Dr. Gabriel Cade, head of BRRH’s emergency department, were delivered via emergency C-section. She said if not for BRRH being so close, either she or her brother may not have survived.
When Cade was pregnant with her son, Jack, three years ago, she was being checked at BRRH when she developed a massive hemorrhage and within 10 minutes required an emergency C-section.
“Can you imagine,” she said about having to drive to Marion or Asheville. “When things like (ending labor and delivery) happen, terrible things happen.”
Local artist Jennifer Bueno helped organize the protest in 18 hours using mainly social media. She said a Mission representative told her the protest could not take place on company property.
“Dr. (Chad) Smoker was more than happy to let us use his parking lot,” she said. “We are thankful for that.”
Mission voted about a month ago to close the labor and delivery department at Angel Medical Center in Franklin amid public outcry and this past May began considering the proposal to end labor and delivery services at BRRH.