UVMC closing labor & delivery unit


TROY — Premier Health is closing the Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC) Labor & Delivery Unit at the end of February 2024.

“In recent years, Premier Health has made considerable progress in charting a path to care, teach, innovate, and serve our local communities in sustainable ways,”said a press release from Premier Health. “Along the way, we have identified areas of unmet need and have grown to address those needs. We also have had to make difficult decisions in response to evolving patient preferences and industry challenges.

“For a variety of reasons outlined below, we have determined it necessary to discontinue labor and delivery services at Upper Valley Medical Center. The hospital’s labor and delivery services will cease operations on Feb. 29, with the last delivery taking place on or before Feb. 21.”

Labor and delivery is a service commonly associated with a full-service community hospital, so this decision was not made lightly, and only after considering the following factors:

• A declining birth rate locally and outmigration of births;

• The number of births at UVMC in 2023 was about half of what it was less than a decade ago. This averages out to fewer than one delivery each day at the hospital, or approximately 325 of births at UVMC in 2023;

• In 2022, 70% of patients living in Miami County left the county for obstetrics delivery services. In the first quarter of 2023, across Miami, Darke, and Shelby counties, Miami Valley Hospital accounted for 23.4% of births, while UVMC accounted for 16.4% of births;

• Challenges around physician recruitment are industry-wide, especially at smaller community-based hospitals, resulting in locums expenses that are not sustainable.

While the decision to close the hospital’s labor and delivery unit was not easy, these factors all made the need for it obvious.

UVMC and Premier Health remain committed to provide meaningful women’s services to area patients:

• Our Premier Women’s Center office at 101 Looney Road in Piqua will continue to provide local obstetrics patients with both prenatal and post-natal care.

• Gynecological surgery will continue to be performed at the hospital.

• The hospital will open its new Women’s Imaging Center in March 2024.

Patients also can expect a seamless transition to the Berry Women’s Center at Miami Valley Hospital’s main campus through collaboration with physicians there. Miami Valley Hospital’s high-risk maternity unit and Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) – both in the same facility – makes it a tremendous asset to mothers and babies throughout the region.

The total number of staff affected is 49. Premier Health has a long-standing commitment and practice of helping employees find placement in roles elsewhere within the health system. Retraining will be provided for those staff who choose to move into other specialties.

“Our gratitude goes out to the labor and delivery and special care nursery staff, many of whom have devoted decades of their career to playing a role in the delivering of babies in Miami County,” said Kevin Harlan, president of Upper Valley Medical Center and Atrium Medical Center, in the release. “This is a special role, and they handle it with reverence and as the privilege that it is.”

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