Before we get to far, I wanted to formally introduce you to the project that has been consuming many people’s time over the last five years! The New Space for Women’s Health is improving the quality of health care for all women in New York City by establishing an independent, center for birth, breastfeeding, and women’s health care. We envision empowering consumers to make infomed choices, have a healthy and satisfactory birth and post-partum care, and changing the conversation around women’s healthcare.
New York City became home to the first independent birth center in the United States in 1975. First as a pilot project of the Maternity Center Association and then as the Elizabeth Seton Childbearing Center (“ESCbC”), birth center midwives provided personalized, respectful care to women and families. At the two centers, midwives welcomed over 7,000 babies into the world and provided countless families with breastfeeding support, childbirth education, postpartum support groups and a strong sense of community.
ESCbC closed its doors on September 1, 2003 due to a number of management issues, including liability insurance costs and a lack of support from the new administration of the hospital that owned the Center. On the eve of the closure, the New Space for Women’s Health grew from the desire to keep the independent birth center option, and a healthy, safe and empowering experience, alive in Manhattan.
The New Space has been successful in raising money and reaching donors who have been attracted by our clear plans, the strategic guidance of our leadership, and the obvious need for our existence in New York City. Our research indicates that our facility will be operating at capacity very quickly, and donors have indicated their long-term support. However, our critical need is immediate: we must secure leadership gifts to enable this project to commence.
In 2005, a generous and committed donor offered the New Space a 15-year lease on a 7,000 square foot space on West 30th Street in Manhattan. Since then we have welcomed to our board finance professionals, nonprofit managers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, producers and philanthropists to our core group of midwives and healthcare professionals. We are now working to fundraise the capital necessary to build a center that will care for over 20,000 women a year, including 1,200 births, and are slated to open in 2011.
We are, of course, always looking for volunteers and advocates! If you are interested in getting involved, you are welcome to contact me at becca [at] newspacenyc.org and we’ll work together to figure out a way you can be involved.