ANGOLA, Ind. (WANE) — As labor and delivery services are scheduled to end this month at hospitals in LaGrange and DeKalb counties, the doctor in charge of the birthing unit at neighboring Cameron Memorial Community Hospital in Angola vowed to continue those services.

“Everyone is committed to making certain that local health care decisions stay locally made,” said Dr. Todd Rumsey, an OB-GYN and Cameron’s Chief Medical Officer.

Rumsey said their “fiercely independent” hospital model works, allowing them to stay competitive as a Level I obstetrics care provider and emphasize a continuity of care during the entire pregnancy journey.

As rural workers become harder to find, obstetrics must balance between continuity and efficiency. How important is seeing the same doctor and midwife before, during and after the baby is born? Every hospital system answers that differently.

In August, Parkview Health announced a new model of care that would move hospital delivery services away from LaGrange and DeKalb, saying in a release it would enhance prenatal and postnatal care – particularly in rural areas – but shift delivery to five other hospitals.

Parkview said it made the decision to ensure long-term access to services for moms and babies. Parkview has declined multiple interview requests to discuss the decision.

Rumsey said Cameron’s model strengthens the relationship between mother and doctor, which he believes is key to lowering Indiana’s high infant mortality rate.

“Everyone’s trying to figure out how do we build a better mousetrap, but in a small community, it’s having all the resources close and easily accessible.”

IU Kelley School of Business Professor Jonathon Helm, who studies health care delivery, is concerned about mothers who need to travel long distances to deliver.

“Does that 45-minute drive impact outcomes?” Helm asked. “It very well could. The longer you wait to get that person under care, the more risk there is of a negative outcome, which requires a lot more intensive resources, which costs more money.”

When needed, Rumsey said Cameron Memorial partners with higher level facilities to send more complicated pregnancies to Fort Wayne or Toledo. But the vast majority of moms deliver in Angola because that is what the community wants.

“When the community says this is what we value, then the hospital must listen and provide that and that’s our pleasure. We serve at the pleasure of Steuben County.”