The planned closing of the North Shore Birth Center is on hold. In June, Beverly Hospital, where the center operates, announced plans to close it in September, citing staffing shortages. The center has been open in Beverly for 42 years and is the last birth center operating in Eastern Massachusetts. The center’s midwives offer holistic prenatal and birth care.

In a letter to hospital staff Thursday, Beverly Hospital president Tom Sands stated the hospital’s intentions to “extend the review process” into the closure of the center.

“Doing so will give us the opportunity to bring together leaders from Beverly Hospital, Beth Israel Lahey Health, state public health officials, local elected leaders and members of the community to further discuss the complex challenges associated with feasibly operating the NSBC for the long-term,” he wrote in the letter.

When closing plans were announced in June, a large outcry from community members, including members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, followed.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley tweeted, "we should be using every tool available to expand & improve access to [reproductive] care — not slash it" and linked to a story about the planned closure. Supporters emphasized that the center was one of only a few places for low-cost midwifery-based births in the state, and the closure would disproportionately hurt low-income families and women of color.

Rebecca Hains, professor of media and communication at Salem State University and member of the Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center, gave birth to her first child there in 2008.

She attended the recent Department of Public Health hearing in July about the closure. “We have lots of testimony at this point from midwives who worked there previously, even former directors of the birth center,” Hains said about advocacy efforts to keep the center open.

Emilee Regan, spokesperson for the Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center, said the pause is just the first step towards ensuring the center's long-term presence.

“We want the birth center to be open to all patients, to be fully-staffed and to be fully-resourced. To pause the path forward to a closure is a great first step, but we have a lot of work to do,” Reagan said.

Produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.