Providence Northeast closing its obstetrics program - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Providence Northeast closing its obstetrics program

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Citing low birthrates and a need to refocus, the Providence Hospitals Board of Trustees has decided to close Providence Hospital Northeast's obstetrics service.

Providence spokeswoman Lauren Chess said closing the hospital's OB program will allow them to expand the hospital's orthopaedic and spine program and add 38 beds and an MRI. Chess said the move also allows the hospital to add 50-75 additional staff members.

"The OB program is a quality program with outstanding physicians, a dedicated nursing staff and exceptional labor and delivery facilities," said hospital Vice President Ryan Hall. "Unfortunately, we had to make this difficult decision based on needs of the community and how Providence can continue to meet those needs and provide the highest level of quality care."

The OB department at Providence Hospital Northeast delivered 637 babies in 2010, about 9% of all babies born in Richland and Lexington counties last year. "The volume of deliveries was simply not enough to make it economically feasible for it to remain open," Hall said. "There are three other quality labor and delivery programs in our community that are doing many more deliveries and can certainly meet the needs of past and future Providence patients."

The OB department employs 17 full-time and 18 temporary staff. Chess said all staff members who wish to remain at the hospital after the December 31, 2011 closing date will be offered employment.

"This situation is not unique to Providence Hospitals," said President and CEO George Zara. "The real story here is that a tremendous amount of stress is being put on the health care industry and we are all going to have to find innovative ways to meet community needs and provide the highest quality care now and far into the future."

Chess said a specific timeline will be announced when it becomes available.

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved.

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