FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The president of the Indiana Hospital Association said the decision by Parkview Health to close two birthing centers is part of a national trend. Brian Tabor said fewer medical students are choosing obstetrics, opting for medical jobs with more predictable 9-to-5 hours.
“There are fewer and fewer physicians that are looking for that kind of practice where they’re on call and following the mom at any point when they’re going to deliver,” Tabor said.
Tabor said regulations and guidelines for birthing centers require care always be available, and the shrinking labor force makes around-the-clock staffing more difficult.
If a health system has a higher-level birthing center in its network, like the Level III center at Parkview Regional Medical Center, Tabor believes the provider is obligated to shuffle staff to the higher-level facilities to handle more complicated deliveries.
Dupont Hospital, part of the Lutheran Health Network, is the only other Level III birthing center in northeast Indiana. The state’s only Level IV centers, which handle the most complicated births, are both in Indianapolis.
Tabor told WANE 15 of a summary last week on Becker’s Hospital Review, a trade website, which showed over 40% of healthcare department shutdowns nationwide since February were related to birth, maternity or obstetrics.
Obstetrics “probably has as much, if not more, pressure on it than just about anything else,” he added. “The biggest factor is the availability of trained obstetricians and OB nurses.”
Tabor stressed the state’s hospitals are committed to increasing pre-natal and post-natal care to lower Indiana’s high baby and mother mortality rates. Parkview emphasized that strategy in its original announcement.
Officials with Parkview Health once again declined an on-camera interview with WANE 15.