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Report: 11 Wisconsin hospitals stopped delivering babies

Posted at 2:10 PM, Jul 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-21 15:10:59-04

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Eleven rural hospitals in Wisconsin stopped routinely delivering babies in the past 10 years, a report shows.

The closures were due to the challenge of a low number of both on-call providers and number of deliveries, the report by the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health said.

The report released earlier this week indicates that five of the 35 rural hospitals still providing obstetrics are at risk of ending the service, though none say they plan to stop it.

Penny Black, data manager for the rural health office, declined to say which hospitals are at risk for discontinuing deliveries, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Still, 56% of the state's rural hospitals perform routine deliveries, compared with 40% of rural hospitals nationally. Nearly 99% of women of child-bearing age in Wisconsin live within a 30-minute drive of a hospital that provides obstetrics, the report showed.

Hospitals that don't provide obstetrics sometimes do emergency deliveries.

"While it is encouraging that no rural hospitals reported intentions of discontinuing obstetric services, it is questionable whether this event is frequently foreseen," the report said. "Given current trends in obstetric unit closure and provider coverage and skill maintenance issues, optimism surrounding these data should be cautious and every effort made to support continued provision of these services."

Hospitals that have stopped doing obstetrics since 2010 are: Bellin Health Oconto Hospital, Oconto; Burnett Medical Center, Grantsburg; Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital, Boscobel; Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital, Hillsboro; HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital, Oconto Falls; Indianhead Medical Center, Shell Lake; Marshfield Medical Center, Ladysmith; Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County, Darlington; Memorial Medical Center, Neillsville; Ripon Medical Center, Ripon; and Spooner Health, Spooner.


Information from: Wisconsin State Journal,

AP-WF-07-21-19 1621GMT