Physicians criticize Maine hospital's closure of obstetrics unit

Current and former physicians at Northern Maine Medical Center fear the hospital's decision to end maternity services May 26 will lead to poor patient outcomes, according to Bangor Daily News. 

The Fort Kent-based hospital cited declining birth rates and staffing woes when it announced the closure of its obstetrics unit earlier this month. At the time, NMMC said employees affected by the closure would be offered other positions and that the hospital was in talks with another medical center to create outpatient clinics for maternal care. 

Several current and former physicians, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, expressed concerns over how far some patients may have to travel to give birth in light of the closure. 

"The birth rate in the area is still high enough for there to be a handful of obstetric emergencies per year," one physician said. "Our geographic location is compounded by extreme winter weather that will mean these emergencies will still happen in our community, and our resources to handle these emergencies have just been cut off. There will be tragedies that would have otherwise been preventable. 

Members of the hospital's board did not respond to the newspaper's requests for comment. 

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