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Editorial: Decision at Regina is a step in the wrong direction

We’re disappointed to report this week that the local hospital in Hastings is no longer going to send in its birth announcements to this newspaper.

The reason Regina Hospital gave? “This new policy ensures consistency with other hospitals after a review of other birth center practices in Minnesota and other states.”

We’re certain Regions Hospital in St. Paul doesn’t package up its birth announcements and send them to the St. Paul Pioneer Press for inclusion every day. We understand that’s not how it works at Regions – there’s just a volume of births there that would make something like this very challenging. Regina, however, sends us two to eight birth announcements a week. This certainly can’t be about someone having to do too much work to get us the announcements.

Second, we don’t call the Pioneer Press and ask them if they publish birth announcements. They don’t. But they’re not a community weekly newspaper like us. Hence, we make different decisions about what is newsworthy and what isn’t. When local residents have a baby, it is local news.

Apparently, management at Regina no longer feels the same way. They’ve apparently forgotten that they are a local hospital.

In a letter to the Star Gazette, hospital president Ty Erickson said: “As always, our top concern is providing excellent patient care, and respecting patient and family members’ confidentiality and privacy.”

Sounds legitimate, right? Well, it’s not.

Here’s how the program has worked in the past: when mothers give birth, they are presented with an optional form. If they chose, they can fill out the form with their names, the name of the child and the name of the child’s grandparents. Someone snaps a photo. Regina then would send us the photo and a scan of the document that the mother filled out.

If the family doesn’t fill out the form, we don’t publish it. If they do fill out the form, we do.

We’re unclear, to say the least, about how this affects anyone’s confidentiality.

We have hope that Regina will reverse its decision and make it easy for such positive news to be spread. All it would take would be a strong local decision.

We will still do our best to feature the births in our newspaper every week. More information on how to do this will be printed next week.