The New River Medical Center's board of directors cut ties with that hospitals obstetrical services program, including deliveries, cesarean section procedures and nursery care, effective this Friday.
According to the community's newspaper, the Monticello Times, the board of directors made the decision on Thursday, May 17.
The hospital operates with an elected board, since its status is a "community" hosptial. It collects tax dollars from a hospital district, which includes communities such as Big Lake, Monticello, Becker and nearby Otsego.
A handful of St. Michael and Albertville residents are employed at the hospital, including at least one in the OB department.
On its website, the a message to New River Medical patrons states the decision was not about funding.
“Suspending obstetrical services was a very difficult decision,” said Ervin Danielowski, New River Medical Center’s Board Chair. “The decision was not based on money or budgets, it was based on our commitment to deliver safe, quality care. At this time, we are simply unable to appropriately and safely staff this service because of the declining number of patients, and we were forced to take action.”
The release continues:
"New River Medical Center will have systems and processes in place to ensure patients are well cared for in the event a mother in labor arrives at New River Medical Center’s Emergency Department. If it is medically safe to do so, the patient will be transferred to another obstetrical unit of her choice. If an emergency delivery is necessary, New River Medical Center will utilize neonatal resuscitation trained nurses, physicians and respiratory therapists to care for the newborn and then transfer both mom and baby to an obstetrical unit.
Why is New River Medical Center suspending obstetrical services?
On May 25, 2012, New River Medical Center will no longer have enough qualified nurses to safely staff the obstetrical unit. Because the local OB/GYN physician group is no longer utilizing the obstetric services at New River Medical Center, deliveries have dropped dramatically causing a significant number of our Women’s Services team members to resign due to low patient volumes and uncertainty of the future. Without qualified staff and without OB/GYNs, New River Medical Center made the difficult decision to suspend obstetrical services until we are able to recruit providers and staff who will care for patients in our community.
Why doesn’t New River Medical Center work with the Monticello Clinic OB/GYN providers?
For many years, New River Medical Center has worked hand-in-hand with the OB/GYN providers at the Monticello Clinic, and we remain interested in continuing that working relationship. Unfortunately, there has been disagreement by the providers over business decisions made by New River Medical Center to grow health care in our community. In spite of this, New River Medical Center continues to want to work with the Monticello Clinic group to provide care to our patients and community.
Will New River Medical Center re-open obstetrical services?
New River Medical Center’s goal is to provide a thriving obstetrical service for our community. We are currently looking for OB/GYN providers who will care for patients in our community, and we continue to be interested in working with the existing local OB/GYN group. Although physician recruitment takes time, we do anticipate re-opening obstetrical services at New River Medical Center to provide compassionate birthing care."
Monticello Clinic Dr. Josephy, a former board member (he resigned recently) and a doctor with the Monticello Clinic, said the hospital's statements is misleading.
He told the Times, "They won't deal with independent physicians. They just trie to hire (and work with their own doctors)."