No more babies will be delivered at the Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre.
Alberta Health Services has closed the obstetrics department after a dramatic decrease from 81 babies delivered last year to only 31 delivered this year to date.
The change will be effective Friday.
“The Lacombe hospital will no longer be delivering babies. That has come after a lengthy review of our obstetric services and our birth rate at the facility,” said AHS area manager Kimberley Sommerville.
The choice was about patient safety, and not a budget issue, according to Sommerville.
She said AHS consulted with physicians, nurses and staff and also received patient feedback before making the decision.
“A growing number of women here in Lacombe are actually choosing to have their babies elsewhere, because of the ability to have the surgical backup or epidural, which we cannot offer in Lacombe at this time,” Sommerville said.
Obstetric services requires a competency of training throughout all nurses, physicians and staff involved. With the decreasing number of babies being delivered, it became a safety issue ensuring all parties are adequately prepared.
“Because obstetrics is a high-risk practice that requires a team of nurses and physicians to be kept up on their skills, we need to be able to deliver babies frequently,” Sommerville said.
The Lacombe hospital had already been referring high-risk births to other facilities.
At around 30 weeks, expecting parents will be transitioned from their local physician to a doctor for delivery at either the Red Deer, Ponoka or Stettler hospitals.
“If there is an imminent birth, like the one we experienced here in our parking lot not long ago, we will have the ability to assist in that moment and then arrange transport via EMS to the facility of their choice,” Sommerville added.