Sonoma Valley Hospital’s board of directors got an earful last week from dozens of local residents – many of them new or expectant mothers – with a simple but impassioned message for hospital leadership: Don’t close obstetrics.
It was not a huge crowd present for the regular Thursday night board meeting – perhaps three-dozen locals joining the board members and administrative staff – but that was enough to fill the hospital’s basement conference room. And although administrators had hoped to hold the meeting at the city’s Community Meeting Room (it was booked that night), the smaller venue gave the gathering an informal, town-hall feel as moms-to-be stood up one by one and said, in essence, “I want to have my baby at this hospital.”
Stephanie Marler was one such speaker, standing with a hand on her swollen belly as she addressed the board.
“If I’m going to have a baby in a hospital, I want it to be this one,” Marler said, explaining the emotional and historical attachment she had to Sonoma Valley. She was born there, her mother worked there for decades, and as a child, “I spent a lot of time physically in this building.”
In fact, Marler said, the very nurse who delivered her “was still working here when I had my daughter two years ago” at Sonoma Valley Hospital. Now Marler is pregnant again, and ready to give birth to her second child in her hometown hospital.