United Medical Center nurses claim deliveries still occur at hospital despite ward shutdown

A staff attorney for the D.C. Nurses Association, which represents nurses, said Washington, D.C.-based United Medical Center has continued to perform labor and delivery operations despite closure of the hospital's labor and delivery ward last August, The Washington Post reports.

Attorney Wala Blegay told the D.C. Council during a public roundtable Tuesday an unidentified number of patients have given birth in the hospital's emergency room.

Because of public health officials' orders to initiate a 90-day shutdown of the hospital's delivery ward last August, the hospital no longer employs obstetrics nurses, meaning women who give birth in the ER and their babies are at higher risk for complications, Ms. Blegay said.

Ms. Blegay told The Washington Post multiple nurses confirmed more than one delivery has taken place, but did not specify how many have occurred. Ms. Blegay said nurses told her the women give birth in the hospital and the babies are subsequently transferred out of the facility.

"There is a concern that at one point there is going to be a situation that comes in that [the hospital] simply can't handle," she said.

A spokesperson for United Medical Center told The Washington Post only one birth has occured at the hospital since regulators ordered the hospital to shut down its labor and delivery ward. She said if a patient arrives "at the ER and is in the process of delivering, we provide the needed medical assessment and treatment and where possible, transportation to a regional OB unit."

The spokesperson also said the D.C. Department of Health made an unannounced inspection of UMC's training in obstetrics Tuesday and determined the hospital is in "full compliance" with regulations, the report states.

News of the deliveries comes nearly one week after The Washington Post reported hospital officials had planned to close the maternity ward prior to public officials' closure orders. Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel E. Bowser reportedly received an email from consultants running the hospital recommending closure of the maternity ward due to its drain on hospital finances and concerns regarding patients' quality of care, the report states.

To read the full report, click here.

Editor's note: Becker's Hospital Review reached out to United Medical Center for comment and will update the article as more information becomes available.

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