Access to maternity care continues to decline in the United States and in Ohio, with multiple maternity wards closing in the past year.
Since June 2022, the Ohio Hospital Association has counted 10 maternity wards closing across the state, according to spokesman John Palmer. Some merged or moved to a partner hospital, but Palmer said the reasons given for the closures centered around workforce issues, operational costs and a decline in use due to fewer births in Ohio.
In Ohio, 13 of the 88 counties have little to no maternity care, and the state had the most women, approximately 97,000, impacted by overall reductions in access to care in the past two years, according to March of Dimes data.
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Meanwhile, approximately 2 million women of childbearing age live at least 25 miles away from a labor and delivery unit, a 2022 USA TODAY analysis found.
There are around 90 Ohio hospitals that offer maternity services, with 49 in rural areas and 42 in urban areas. Eight of Ohio’s 88 counties, mostly in eastern Ohio, don’t have a hospital.
Here is a list of the 10 Ohio hospitals that have ceased labor and delivery services since June 2022:
This location stopped offering labor and delivery services in mid-April 2023 and began routing patients to its TriPoint Family Birthing Center about 15 miles away.
The closure is “in order to offer the highest level of care to mothers and babies,” according to a University Hospitals release.
This hospital, in North Central Ohio in Shelby, stopped offering delivery services in February 2023.
OhioHealth said women can now deliver at its Mansfield Hospital, 13 miles away.
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“A change such as this is never an easy decision to make,” according to a statement from OhioHealth. “We want to make sure the highest quality resources and support are available for our obstetric and newborn patients.”
This hospital, South of Cleveland, stopped delivery services in December 2022 and merged them with University Hospitals’ Geauga Medical Center in Chardon, about 24 miles away.
The September announcement said the change would create a regional hub. The hospital system cited workforce shortages and declining patient volume as making it hard for them to continue providing quality services.
Summa Health System’s Barberton Campus stopped offering delivery services in November 2022 and merged with the system’s Akron City Hospital campus. The other campus is about 9.6 miles away.
Summa Health said the change will allow it to better serve mothers-to-be, newborns and families as it has seen declining use of labor and delivery services at Barberton.
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“Summa Health remains committed to the Barberton community and we have no plans to eliminate inpatient services or to make wide ranging cuts across the campus,” according to a statement from the health system.
This hospital, near Toledo, closed its delivery services in December 2022, with patients being referred to St. Vincent Medical Center, 6 miles away.
The health system expanded maternity services at St. Vincent and brought doctors from the two hospitals together to offer a higher level of care, according to a statement from Mercy Health.
McLaren St. Luke’s hospital, in Maumee, announced in May 2022 that its labor and delivery services were shutting down in September due to staffing, a decline in births and exclusion from an insurance company’s plan.
“We made every effort to avoid eliminating the program,” said Jennifer Montgomery, McLaren St. Luke’s president and CEO, in a statement at the time. “It is simply not financially feasible to continue operating our birthing unit with such steeply declining volume.”
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Montgomery noted that there are several other local options for labor and delivery services.
In March 2023, the hospital announced it is closing its doors and discontinuing all operations after years of declining use, revenues and the “lingering impact of COVID-19,” according to the hospital’s website.
Mercy Health bought the facility for planned outpatient services. The transition took place this month.
Community Memorial Hospital, in Hicksville, in Northwest Ohio, announced its labor and delivery services would cease in September, according to Palmer.
The hospital did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
Highland District Hospital, in Southwest, Ohio, announced the closure of its labor and delivery services and a partnership with other health systems in August.
The partnership, with Physicians for Women, CMH Regional Health System, and TriHealth, will keep women’s health services within Highland County, according to the announcement.
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The announcement said women can deliver at Clinton Memorial Hospital, which is 25 miles from Highland District Hospital, or Bethesda North Hospital, about 46 miles away.
In June, Miami Valley Hospital announced that labor and delivery services at its Miami Valley Hospital South location, in Centerville, near Dayton, would cease and be merged into the main hospital location, in downtown Dayton.
It is a 13-mile drive between the two locations.
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In a statement, owners of the hospitals, Premier Health, said that Miami Valley Hospital South has experienced growth in other health services, creating more demand for inpatient beds.
“To respond to this rapidly increasing need, we will be repurposing beds on the campus for medical/surgical care that are currently used for obstetrics,” according to the statement.
This Northwest Ohio hospital announced that its labor and delivery services closed on April 28.
“We made every effort to keep the department open but given the stresses on healthcare systems locally and nationally, including workforce shortages, physician recruitment, ongoing reimbursement challenges, and a declining birth rate we must pursue a more sustainable path forward,” said Kristi Barnd, CEO, in a statement.
The announcement said several area hospitals within 20 miles of Henry County Hospital can offer delivery services.