(WDEF) The Board of Directors for Hutcheson Medical Center announced Wednesday evening that the hospital will suspend its Labor & Delivery services as of December 31, 2013. Officials cite the suspension of services as part of a larger strategic plan to refocus the hospital’s resources on community medical and surgical services that are financially viable and return the hospital to profitability. Hutcheson’s Certificate of Need allows the hospital to resume services within a twelve month period.
“Suspending Hutcheson’s Labor and Delivery unit is a very difficult decision and one that we do not make lightly,” stated Corky Jewell, Chairman of the Board for Hutcheson Medical Center. “But for the hospital to operate independently, the Board and executive management must evaluate service lines which are not financially viable as part of a broader strategic plan to ensure Hutcheson’s sustained profitability.” Jewell added that gynecological surgeries and inpatient pediatric medical care, two services previously combined with Labor and Delivery as Hutcheson’s Women’s Center, will remain part of the hospital’s services.
Hospital officials stated that the Labor and Delivery service loses approximately $2 million dollars annually, and the hospital has seen a steady decrease in births over the past 12 years as local birthing centers have become more competitive. According to Farrell Hayes, Interim CEO and CFO/COO, “Suspending Labor and Delivery services allows Hutcheson to refocus our resources and attention to growing medical service lines including cardiology, pulmonology, gastroenterology, and orthopedics that are needed in the community, are financially viable, and will allow Hutcheson to remain fiscally strong and operate independently.”
Hayes stated that while the jobs of thirty seven (37) employees will be impacted by the suspension of services, qualified employees will be offered comparable positions currently open in other parts of the hospital. “Employees who are not qualified for comparable jobs, or choose not to accept a comparable job, will be provided a severance package,” Hayes said.
As there are four hospitals with labor and delivery service in the region, Hayes stated that the community will not experience a gap in delivery and neonatal service. “We are working with the physicians and other hospitals to provide seamless transfer of services for any patients who may be in the neonatal ICU or nursery on December 31. We recommend all pregnant mothers who were planning to deliver at Hutcheson contact their physician for more information.”