Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe will not have a New Year’s baby to announce the first of 2014. As of noon today (Dec. 31) the facility suspended labor and delivery services as part of its strategic plan going forward as an independent hospital.
Hutcheson’s temporary CEO Farrell Hayes said the decision was based on labor and delivery services’ financial losses of an estimated $2 million a year. Labor and delivery services are housed at the hospital’s Women’s Center.
The transition happened without any hiccups, said administrator of physician services Stacey Kaufmann. The last baby born at the Women’s Center was on Dec. 27. Mother and baby went home the following day and there have been no other deliveries or patients requiring on-going inpatient medical care since then, Kaufmann said.
Consistent with federal law, Hutcheson’s emergency department will provide emergency care to treat and stabilize mothers with pregnancy-related medical conditions, according to a press release issued by the Hutcheson prior to the closing. The hospital has notified area EMS providers of Hutcheson’s labor and delivery suspension of services. After stabilizing pregnant mothers, they will be transferred by ambulance to a qualified hospital facility providing the same level of care, such as Erlanger East and ParkRidge East.
Hutcheson’s labor and delivery has 37 employees impacted by the unit’s suspension. Approximately five of those employees accepted full-time positions and two accepted PRN positions in other parts of the hospital — leaving 30 people without employment for the New Year. Because the labor and delivery field is so specific, administrators anticipated there would be difficulty transferring many of those employees to other areas of the hospital.
Those 30 employees are getting severance packages. The amount was not released.
“Qualified employees who did not accept comparable positions decided to stay in their labor and delivery area of expertise and seek employment elsewhere,” Kaufmann said.