Alliance Community Hospital to Close OB Unit
Alliance Community Hospital to Close OB Unit
Patients can go to nearby hospitals to deliver babies
(March 11, 2016) – The Board of Trustees of Alliance Community Hospital has voted to close the hospital’s obstetrics unit. Officials from the hospital said the unit is expected to remain open until July1, as patient care is transitioned to nearby hospitals where additional services such as round-the-clock anesthesiology and neonatal care are available. Aultman Hospital and Mercy Medical Center are about 18 miles away and have capacity to handle more patients, according to Alliance Community Hospital CEO Stan Jonas.
“This was a difficult decision but we are confident it’s the right decision,” Jonas said. “The Board of Trustees, Administration and Medical Executive Committee were unanimous in this decision. Other than the actual delivery, patients will continue to receive all other OB/GYN services, including prenatal and post-partum care, here in Alliance. They will only have to travel to Canton for deliveries, and we will provide transportation to Canton for patients who need that service.” He noted that emergency OB/GYN services will still be provided at Alliance Community Hospital, as situations arise.
“Unfortunately, this will mean the loss of 13current nursing positions,” Jonas said. The nurses were notified earlier today that the unit will be closing.
Jonas explained that it has become increasingly difficult and expensive to attract and retain physicians in this specialty. “This is a growing problem for hospitals outside of larger metropolitan areas,” he said. “In order to ensure good coverage for our patients and a work-life balance for the physicians who practice here, we have worked diligently and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to recruit OB/GYNs to practice in Alliance. Despite our best efforts, our newest recruit will leave this summer, after being here for less than one year.”
The hospital has recruited physicians for this unit four times in recent years, he said, and going through this process again would bring the cost of recruiting efforts to $1 million, with no guarantee of success. In addition, the OB director has taken another position and, in order to keep the OB unit open, the hospital would face the difficult challenge of trying to recruit for that position as well.
Moreover, the number of deliveries at Alliance Community Hospital is declining. The last two years marked the lowest number of deliveries at the hospital in a decade. Jonas said that almost half of the women in Alliance choose to have their babies delivered at other hospitals with the majority delivered in Canton.
“While we are sad about the loss of these services, we understand the challenges facing the hospital,” said Dr. Carl Foster, head of the medical staff. “We will continue to provide all other comprehensive OB/GYN services consistent with the outstanding, personalized care that is characteristic of our community hospital.”
“Obviously, this is a big change for our Alliance Obstetrics group,” said Dr. Craig O’Dear, a physician with Alliance Obstetrics, Inc. “Plans are to stay in the Alliance community and more specific plans will be announced about our practice in the future. We understand this was a tough decision for the hospital, which has been very supportive of our practice, and we are exploring ways to continue to work together in the future.”
Jonas said that closing the OB unit will open up opportunities to direct resources to redesigning existing OB/GYN operations related to other pressing healthcare needs facing women in Alliance.
“We will be able to share more information soon about new services focused on women’s health and primary care to address unmet needs in our community,” Jonas said. “We are working on a new, team-based approach that will feature a collaborative model with several of our community partners who are involved with our patients in many ways.”
While many other community hospitals across the country have also closed their OB units, Jonas said this is not strictly a financial decision, although the OB unit has been losing money and deficits are projected to increase.
“This was a very difficult decision for our board and certainly not one we took lightly,” David Lundgren, vice chair of the Alliance Community Hospital Board,said. “The healthcare landscape is changing, birth rates are down in our community and the population is aging. It all came down to what the community needs most and how we will use our limited resources to meet those needs in the future.”
About Alliance Community Hospital
Alliance Community Hospital, Ohio’s only Planetree affiliated hospital, is a non-profit hospital founded in 1901, currently licensed for 204 beds. Alliance Community Hospital offers a quality medical staff of more than 150 active and covering physicians, and more than 1,000 colleagues serving our community. ACH has several affiliate services that complement our mission. For more information on programs and services offered by Alliance Community Hospital please visit our website at www.achosp.org.