Hospital to close obstetrical services

Published 11:53 am Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Southampton Memorial Hospital announced on Tuesday that it will close obstetric services effective on Sunday, April 30.

According to Kimberly W. Marks, CEO, this decision will allow the hospital to remain a sustainable healthcare provider for both Franklin and the surrounding community it serves.

“We enjoy serving our patients at all stages of their lives and take seriously our responsibility to provide them with high quality care,” Marks said. “This has been a difficult decision, but we must apply our resources to the services that our community needs most.”

There has been a steady decline in the number of families who choose SMH as their provider for childbirth. On average, there have been approximately 165 births each year for the past five years at the hospital. This equates to about one baby born every two days. In 2016, only 140 babies were born at the SMH.

Asked why there’s been a decline in the number of women giving birth at the hospital, spokeswoman Terry Tysinger said while the residents of the community rely on emergency services, cardiac care, long term care and other key services provided by Southampton Memorial Hospital, there has been a steady decrease in the number of families who choose SMH as their provider for obstetrical services despite the hospital’s efforts to change that.

“Families are increasingly choosing to go elsewhere to give birth.” added Tysinger, who is vice president of marketing and public relations for SMH, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center in Emporia and Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg.For patients scheduled to deliver their babies after April 30, the hospital is working to ensure a smooth transition of their plans.

“Although there are a relatively small number of affected patients, we understand that these changes may create concern for those who had planned to deliver at SMH,” Marks continued. “We are making every effort to ensure this transition is as comfortable as possible.”

According to her, the hospital is in the process of directly contacting patients to assist with the transition to another hospital or birthing center.

SMH will continue to offer pediatrics and women’s services. There will be no impact to the nurses and support personnel who staff the OB unit. They will have the opportunity to move into other patient care areas within the organization.

The closure of the obstetrical unit will enable the hospital to develop services that are in greater demand, and SMH plans to share those plans with the community as they are finalized.

Marks emphasized that the hospital will remain equipped to respond to patients who are experiencing a medical emergency after April 30 — obstetrics-related or otherwise.

“Our hospital’s experience emergency department team is trained to provide emergency medical care and, if needed, make arrangements for a transfer to a higher level of care.”