Reasons for the suspension
According to the hospital’s president, Alan Fabian, the suspension of the labor and delivery services is a temporary measure that aims to ensure the safety and quality of care for the patients. He said that the hospital has faced challenges in recruiting and retaining enough OB/GYNs to staff the maternity unit, which has seen a drop in the number of deliveries from 600 in 2019 to 400 in 2023.
Fabian also cited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has increased the demand for other services, such as intensive care, emergency care, and surgery, at the hospital. He said that the hospital needs to allocate its resources and staff to the areas of greatest need and highest demand.
Options for the affected patients
The hospital has notified the patients who are currently receiving prenatal care at the hospital or have scheduled deliveries after February 1, 2024. The hospital has offered to help them find alternative providers and facilities for their care and delivery. The hospital has also partnered with Carilion Clinic, a health system based in Roanoke, Virginia, to facilitate the transfer of the patients to its facilities.
Carilion Clinic operates several hospitals in the region, including Carilion New River Valley Medical Center in Christiansburg, which is about 10 miles away from LewisGale Hospital Montgomery. Carilion Clinic has assured that it has the capacity and the expertise to accommodate the additional patients and provide them with high-quality maternity care.
Reaction from the community
The announcement of the suspension of the labor and delivery services at LewisGale Hospital Montgomery has sparked mixed reactions from the community. Some patients and families have expressed disappointment and frustration, saying that they chose the hospital for its reputation and convenience, and that they now have to travel farther and change their plans. Some have also raised concerns about the availability and accessibility of maternity care in the rural areas of Virginia.
On the other hand, some patients and families have expressed understanding and support, saying that they appreciate the hospital’s honesty and transparency, and that they trust the hospital’s decision and the quality of care at Carilion Clinic. Some have also praised the hospital’s staff and doctors for their professionalism and compassion.
Future plans for the maternity unit
The hospital has stated that the suspension of the labor and delivery services is not a permanent closure, and that it intends to resume the services when the conditions improve. The hospital has said that it will continue to monitor the situation and evaluate the feasibility of reopening the maternity unit in the future.
The hospital has also said that it will maintain its women’s care services, such as gynecology, breast health, and urogynecology, at the hospital and at its affiliated clinics. The hospital has said that it is committed to providing comprehensive and compassionate care for the women in the community.