Wake Forest Baptist seeks to resume low-risk deliveries after 41 years

Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is looking to overturn its agreement with a competing health system and resume providing low-risk deliveries, which the hospital voluntarily agreed to abstain from for the past 41 years, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Here are four things to know:

1. Under a 1977 "contractual agreement" between Wake Forest Baptist and Winston-Salem-based Forsyth Medical Center, Forsyth Medical would provide care for low-risk deliveries, while Wake Forest Baptist would operate the area trauma center and provide care for high-risk deliveries. Both institutions retained their neonatal intensive care units.

2. Julie Ann Freischlag, MD, CEO of Wake Forest Baptist and dean of its affiliated medical school, told the Winston-Salem Journal July 10 officials have discussed resuming low-risk delivery services in recent years, and that her appointment as CEO spurred a renewed interest in the move. She also said the service would be available to all women in the region, particularly those who currently see a Wake Forest Baptist physician.

3. However, Wake Forest Baptist's entry into the traditional delivery space may chip away at Forsyth Medical Center's revenue source, as the hospital conducted the second highest number of deliveries in the state in 2017, the report states. The move may also cause some patients to comparison shop for costs.

4. Dr. Freischlag told the publication Wake Forest Baptist physicians perform roughly half the deliveries conducted at Forsyth Medical, and said she does not expect any changes or pushback to the hospital's decision.

"Our physicians will continue their normal advising patterns with patients, with the ability to inform them they have another in-county choice for where to give birth," she said.

To access the full report, click here.

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