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CHS' plan to close Missouri hospital leaves expectant mothers scrambling to find care

Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems plans to close Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center, a 116-bed hospital in Kennett, Mo., June 30. The hospital has already started scaling back services, which has left this rural area in southeast Missouri known as the Bootheel without an OB-GYN.

Here are five things to know.

1. The hospital announced April 30 it was closing. Although the facility will offer inpatient, emergency room and outpatient services until the end of June, Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center stopped providing obstetric/gynecologic services May 18, according to KAIT.

2. Nelson Perez, MD, who has been the only full-time OB-GYN in the Bootheel for years, said he stopped taking new patients May 1, and his last delivery was May 16. He told St. Louis Public Radio the nearest obstetrics unit is now in Poplar Bluff, Mo., which is an hour's drive from Kennett. This poses a major problem for many of his patients who do not own cars.

3. Dr. Perez delivers 400 babies per year on average. That's about 100 more than the average OB-GYN, according to a 2015 survey by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

4. Pemiscot Memorial Hospital in Hayti, Mo., is about 20 minutes away from Kennett. The hospital went bankrupt in 2013, and closed its obstetrics unit to save money. Pemiscot Memorial Hospital plans to hire five of Twin Rivers' physicians, which could help keep vital healthcare services like urgent care and obstetrics in the area, according to St. Louis Public Radio.

5. Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center's 259 employees will be laid off when the hospital closes, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act noticefiled April 30.

Access the full St. Louis Public Radio article here.

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