County hospital to discontinue obstetric services

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


During the Oct. 26 meeting of the Washington County Hospital and Clincis board of trustees, the board approved discontinuing obstetric services at the hospital, citing that the program does not best utilize the resources available.

According to a news release, the hospital?s leadership and the trustees have been examining ways to better use the staff and facilities available over the past few months as part of the organization?s plan for long term growth. Through this analysis it was determined the increasing cost of OB services with the low birthrate at the hospital did not best use resources available.

?The decision, while not an easy one, was made in response to the changing health care needs of our community,? Dr. Stephan Schomer, Interim CEO, said. ?Birthing rates at WCHC remain low, averaging 130 births each year, yet costs continue to rise. We have seen a dramatic 41 percent increase in costs for this service line over the past five years. During this same time we have had an increase in demand for the emergency room and inpatient services. Eliminating obstetric services allows WCHC to better provide for the communities we serve.?

Schomer also said while the decision was a hard one to make, he feels it is the right one strategically for WCHC. The said the resources can be reinvested into the hospital such that it will benefit patients and the communities served. He said as the local health care system it is the goal of the organization to provide the right care at the right time.

Foundation and marketing director Amy Vetter said this morning that she expected the OB services to be discontinued by June 1.

?There are a number of projects we are looking at ? both expanding and improving projects ? and other growth opportunities in the future,? she said.

The transition is expected to take several months in efforts to communicate the decision to patients and work with other providers to efficiently transition care for expectant mothers. OB staff will be offered similar positions within the organization and the decision will result in no reduction of staff. Both Women?s Clinic physicians are certified gynecologists and will continue to provide gynecological services to women of all ages.

The release said that with thorough analysis WCHC will continue to grow and improve services to best meet the current and future needs of all the communities the health system services.It said WCHC will continue to be the health care provider of choice providing quality health care that puts people first.