CoxHealth hospital closes obstetrics unit due to physician shortage

CoxHealth plans to close the labor and delivery unit at Cox (Mo.) Monett Hospital by July 1, citing difficulties recruiting obstetricians and family practice physicians.

The health system said it has tried to maintain the hospital's obstetrics program through various recruitment strategies over the last year — including contracting an outside firm to provide OB/GYN resources to help family practice physicians who also provide obstetric care — but it continues to struggle with staffing.

"Even though assistance is being provided to help with deliveries, caring for newborns 24 hours a day, seven days a week, cannot be sustained with only two specialized on-site family practice physicians," CoxHealth said in an April 27 news release. "Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to recruit enough physicians with the requisite skills to maintain the service."

Andrea McKay, president of Cox Monett, said the decision was a difficult one, but "the program is not sustainable without the number of physicians needed."

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