Panic Ensues Amid Hospital Unit Closures

Panic Ensues Amid Hospital Unit Closures

( – Two hospitals in Alabama have announced that they will cease delivering babies by October’s end. A third will do the same in the coming weeks.

The counties of Monroe and Shelby would be left without a maternity hospital. Driving distances for expectant moms in Monroe County might range from 35 miles to 100 miles. The nearest hospital with a birthing unit near Shelby County is no less than 17 miles away.

More than a third of Alabama’s counties lack access to a hospital with licensed nurse midwives, obstetrics services, OB/GYNs, or birth centers; thus, women from such areas often have to travel long distances to give birth elsewhere.

Medical professionals in Alabama are concerned about the future health of expectant mothers and their newborns as a result of the impending closure of maternity wards.

The Shelby County and Birmingham hospitals that are closing their maternity wards are both affiliated with Brookwood Baptist Health. The lack of available personnel was given as the reason for the Monroe County Hospital maternity ward’s closing.

Several doctors in Alabama have said that it might be difficult to keep maternity wards operational due to the fact that they aren’t always lucrative. Per the Census Bureau, over nine percent of Alabamians do not have health insurance, and Medicaid pays for almost half of all births in the state. Program reimbursements are much lower than those provided by commercial health insurance.

No one wants mothers and newborns to fail, but you also can’t lose money year after year on a service, said the CEO, Dr. John Waits, of the charity Cahaba Medical Care, that operates clinics that treat patients in spite of their capacity to pay. Cahaba doctors frequent both Shelby Baptist and Princeton Baptist Hospitals for obstetric procedures.

Living a distance from an obstetrics treatment hospital might prevent people from getting checked out, according to Dr. Rowell Ashford, who works at Shelby and Princeton. Some women may delay getting to the hospital because of the lengthy travel, and their infants may be delivered on the way.

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