Riverside moms protest breastfeeding services being cut at community hospital

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- A ceremony meant to celebrate the opening of a brand new hospital expansion in Riverside was met by protesters frustrated over services being cut at the breastfeeding clinic.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for Riverside Community Hospital's new $400 million patient tower. The state-of-the art facility will have more ICU rooms and surgical units.

But outside the celebration, protestors had a message for the hospital and its administrators.

"They haven't released a statement as to why they plan to close the clinic at the same time they open up this $400 million tower to serve the needs of the community," said protester Katie Stahl-Kovell.

A group called Support the Riverside Breastfeeding Clinic said the hospital, which operates the clinic, backed off closing it after they got involved.

Still, they are outraged by the new terms reducing the clinics hours to just two days a week and by appointment only.

"It's on a walk-in basis. You won't find that anywhere else in the Inland Empire," Stahl-Kovell added.

The free public clinic is where many of the women there turned to after struggling to breastfeed their newborns.

Many said the clinic's lactation consultants help make the difference.

Eyewitness News asked about the breastfeeding clinic during our tour of the new tower, but we were told they wanted the focus to remain on the day's main event.

A spokesperson, however, issued a statement that read in part: "At this time, we are focusing on offering lactation services to our patients. We are currently working on a long-term solution to continue offering these services to the general public."

Meantime, moms struggling with breastfeeding, or who have questions, will have to make an appointment.
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