Another Maine hospital is ending birthing services

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 8:11 AM EDT
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YORK, Maine (WMTW) - York Hospital announced Tuesday it will close its inpatient birthing unit on Sept. 25 due to the ongoing nationwide shortage of health care workers.

The hospital said it is working with Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, New Hampshire, part of the Mass General Brigham system, to make sure all York Hospital expectant mothers continue to have access to the care they need as they prepare for delivery.

York Hospital patients will continue to receive pre- and post-natal care on the York Hospital campus, with labor and delivery care provided at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital.

York Hospital will continue to provide the same gynecological care on its main campus, as well as pediatric services on its York and Wells campuses. No other departments or services are being considered for closure.

“We’re keenly aware of the impact that this difficult decision will have on our patients and our community. Multiple steps were taken to keep the department open, but unfortunately, worker shortages have left us unable to provide the level of consistent, high-quality care our patients deserve,” President and CEO Dr. Patrick Taylor said. “I’m grateful to the team at Wentworth-Douglass for their assistance in ensuring the safety and uninterrupted care of our patients, and I’m confident they will continue to provide a higher level of care for both our mothers and babies.”

The hospital said the decision to close the birthing center was not based on financial issues, but instead on the continued decline of birth rates at the center, along with the health care worker shortage.

A 2023 study published by the health care consulting firm Chartis found that across the country, at least 217 hospitals have closed their labor and delivery departments since 2011, 19 within the last year.

This will be the seventh hospital in Maine to close its obstetrics services since 2015. The others are:

  • Rumford Hospital, Rumford — 2023
  • Northern Maine Medical Center, Fort Kent - 2023
  • St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, Lewiston — 2022
  • Bridgton Hospital, Bridgton — 2021
  • Calais Regional Hospital, Calais — 2018
  • Penobscot Valley Hospital, Lincoln — 2015