23 maternity units shuttering in 2023

As financial pressures and workforce shortages mount, some hospitals and health systems are forced to end services. When cuts come to town, maternity units increasingly find themselves in trouble.  

Between 2016 and 2020, there was an increase of 70 counties that qualify as maternity deserts: those without a hospital, birthing center or clinicians with experience delivering babies. Rural areas are at an especially high risk of becoming maternity deserts; in Florida, 86 percent of rural hospitals do not offer obstetrics. 

These closures often worry nearby residents, as the commute to the next OB-friendly hospital can be lengthy — and in some cases, dangerous. As a result, state governments are putting pressure on hospitals to keep birthing units open, even when resources are stretched thin; OB-GYN residences have dipped post-Dobbs, making it increasingly difficult for hospitals to attract providers. 

Becker's has reported the following hospitals ending maternity care in 2023, including planned closures: 

1. Boise, Idaho-based Saint Alphonsus Health, part of Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health, was slated to close a birthing center in Baker City, Ore., July 31. However, the health system is transferring nurses from Idaho to keep the center open in the short-term, with the local government funding travel and lodging expenses. 

2. Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) General Hospital abruptly ended childbirth services July 11, about three weeks earlier than it initially planned. The hospital, owned by CHS-subsidiary Commonwealth Health, was unable to secure necessary staffing on the unit. 

3. Buffalo, N.Y.-based Catholic Health shared plans to eliminate several services at Mount St. Mary's Hospital in Lewiston, N.Y., including maternity. 

4. Decatur, Ill.-based HSHS St. Mary's Hospital is shuttering four units, including pediatrics, obstetrics and its newborn nursery. The state's Health Facilities and Services Review Board unanimously approved the service cuts June 27. 

5. Albany, N.Y.-based St. Peter's Health Partners submitted a plan to the state Department of Health to shut down the maternity unit at Troy, N.Y.-based Samaritan Hospital.

6. Worcester, Mass.-based UMass Memorial Health planned to close the maternity ward at its HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital Leominster Campus on Sept. 22 due to staff shortages and a declining number of births in the area. However, on Aug. 7, the state's Department of Health deemed the maternity unit essential, complicating the potential closure. The hospital has 15 days after the decision to submit a plan for maintaining maternity care in the area. 

7. Peoria, Ill.-based OSF HealthCare is closing its labor and delivery services at OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center in Urbana, Ill. Starting in September, labor and delivery patients will be redirected to OSF Sacred Heart Medical Center in Danville, Ill., or OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, Ill.

8. Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent closed its obstetrics unit May 26. The move comes as birth rates decline in the area along with staffing trouble. 

9. CoxHealth closed the labor and delivery unit at Cox (Mo.) Monett Hospital this summer, citing difficulties recruiting obstetricians and family practice physicians.

10. Warsaw, N.Y.-based Wyoming County Community Health System ended its birthing services June 1 amid financial challenges and declining births in the area.

11. Springfield, Ore.-based McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center closed its maternity health practice July 7, stating the 11-employee midwifery program is "unsustainable."

12. Renton, Wash.-based Providence ended labor and delivery at Petaluma (Calif.) Valley Hospital on May 1.

13. Plymouth, Ind.-based St. Joseph Health System closed its New Beginnings Birthplace center after it was unable to attract an obstetrician. It also closed its OB-GYN office March 31.

14. Palomar Medical Center Poway (Calif.), part of Escondido, Calif.-based Palomar Health, closed its labor and delivery unit in June. 

15. A combination of a loss of pediatricians, changing demographics and some of the strictest abortion laws in the country forced Sandpoint, Idaho-based Bonner General Hospital to stop delivering babies. 

16. The only hospital in Manitowoc, Wis., a city of nearly 35,000 — Froedtert Holy Family Memorial Hospital — stopped all obstetrics care on June 1.

17. Cleveland-based University Hospitals ended labor and delivery services at UH Lake West in Willoughby, Ohio, April 15. Services were consolidated at TriPoint in Concord Township, which is about 15 miles away.

18. Citing a lack of provider coverage, Ocean Springs, Miss.-based Singing River Health System ended obstetric services at Singing River Gulfport (Miss.) on April 1. 

19. Rumford (Maine) Hospital ended its maternity program March 31 after 97 years in service because of a decline in birth rates, staff shortages among obstetricians and the need for a more consistent plan for women's healthcare in the region.

20. Rochester, N.H.-based Frisbie Memorial Hospital was granted permission to discontinue labor and delivery services after HCA Healthcare agreed to a $2.75 million settlement agreement with the Greater Rochester Community Health Foundation to help improve the health and well-bing of the community. 

21. OhioHealth's Shelby Hospital stopped providing maternity services Feb. 28. Maternity services are provided at OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital, about 13 miles from Shelby Hospital. 

22. Ascension Providence Hospital-Southfield (Mich.) ended midwifery services at the end of February. The hospital, part of St. Louis-based Ascension, continues to offer obstetric services. 

23. Astria Toppenish (Wash.) Hospital closed its labor and delivery unit Jan. 14 because of financial losses, fewer deliveries and reduced Medicaid funding. 

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