Labor & Delivery Services Ending April 30
Labor & Delivery Services Ending April 30

Labor & Delivery Services Ending April 30

Hospital

Effective April 30, Wyandot Memorial Hospital will no longer deliver babies.

“The decision to end our labor and delivery services was very difficult and emotional,” WMH Board Chairman Fred Feichter reported. “We’ve struggled for almost 15 years with how to justify keeping the service, when more and more Wyandot County residents travel out of the county to deliver their newborns.”

The decline in birth rate was also a factor in the decision, which was unanimous among the board members according to Feichter.

“Across the nation, there are simply fewer babies being born,” he stated, "and of Wyandot County residents, 33% deliver their babies at WMH, 58% go to surrounding hospitals and 9% require higher level tertiary care.”

Feichter emphasized that the end of delivering babies was not strictly a financial decision, although the labor and delivery service had been losing money and deficits are projected to increase.

“We’re committed to our mission of Keeping Our Promise to be Your Hospital,” he said, “but also recognize the importance of being good stewards of the resources entrusted to us and remaining independent with local leadership. With birth rates down and our population aging, it’s more about what our community needs most and how we meet those needs.”

Among other reasons for the service ending were the following considerations:

  • In 2018, 125 babies were born at WMH. Only two other hospitals in Ohio had fewer births: Henry County Hospital and Mercy Health – Defiance Hospital.
  • The hospital had hoped its investment in OB/GYN providers would entice more Wyandot County residents to choose to deliver their babies at WMH, but there has been little change in market share.
  • Strict regulations governing Ohio’s maternity departments keep our babies safe, but they come at a cost. For example, soon-to-be enacted rules would have necessitated adding an additional nurse to the department around the clock.

“I don’t believe the decision to no longer deliver babies at Wyandot comes as a surprise to many in our community,” Feichter commented. “The hospitals in Kenton and Bucyrus stopped delivering years ago.”

Feichter said the board instructed hospital administration to redirect monies earmarked for labor and delivery to women’s health. Donations made to the hospital for obstetrics will also be used for women’s health services, or returned if the donor so desires, he added.

“Our current OB/GYN providers will continue to provide prenatal care and post-delivery care at WMH for the convenience of patients, with only the delivery occurring elsewhere,” President and CEO Ty Shaull noted. He indicated that Mercy Health – Tiffin Hospital welcomes newborn deliveries by the Wyandot staff.

The OB/GYN providers on staff at WMH are Obstetrician/Gynecologist Anne B. Clark, DO, and Nurse Midwives Megan Bair, CNM, and Susan Hotelling, CNM. Dr. Clark already has privileges at Tiffin since she participates in an on-call rotation with their OB/GYN physicians.

“The hospital family is deeply saddened with the ending of deliveries within our doors,” Shaull stated, “and grateful for the many years of top-notch care provided to our newest neighbors by a truly dedicated staff of skilled and compassionate professionals.”

Shaull mentioned that the hospital might still have an occasional delivery if an expectant mother presents to the emergency department without time for transfer to another hospital. Other Ohio hospitals without labor and delivery services report this typically occurs very infrequently.

Feichter said the physical location now used for labor and delivery may be transitioned to other patient care services as determined by the planning process that was started last fall to accommodate growth in surgeries, higher acuity admissions, swing bed stays and outpatient treatments.

“We had fully intended to include a renovated labor and delivery area in our master facility plan,” Feichter explained, “but both architectural firms we interviewed shared volume benchmarks and questioned why we were putting construction and staffing dollars toward an under-utilized service.”

He assured that the construction project scheduled for 2019 would consider the best use of the labor and delivery space for the long term needs of the hospital and community.

Both Feichter and Shaull welcome questions about the discontinuation of labor and delivery services, and suggest they be directed to Ann Kemerley, the hospital’s public relations director, at 419-294-4991, extension 2268, or akemerley@wyandotmemorial.org.