ELIZABETHTOWN, NC (WECT) - Citing extensive damage from Hurricane Florence and declining baby deliveries, officials with Cape Fear Valley Health announced on Thursday that Bladen County Hospital’s Family Birth Center will not reopen.
The center has been closed since September after Florence struck the region. Officials say the decision to keep the center closed was also made in part due to new mothers opting to have their children delivered at larger hospitals in surrounding counties.
Officials say Bladen County Hospital had just 200 baby deliveries in 2018, with annual totals shrinking in recent years.
“Reluctantly, Bladen County Hospital is joining the many rural hospitals nationwide that have been forced to discontinue inpatient maternity services,” said Dr. Roxie Wells, president of Bladen County Healthcare. “The need for specialized staff around the clock, including nurses, nurse anesthetists and obstetricians, makes it too costly for low-volume rural hospitals to provide the service.”
Officials say the hospital will continue to provide emergency services, inpatient services and surgeries. Bladen County Hospital’s Emergency Department will remain staffed to triage emergencies, including pregnant and laboring mothers, and will transfer delivering patients to area hospitals as necessary and appropriate.
“Cape Fear Valley Health is committed to ensuring that the healthcare needs of Bladen County residents are met today and for years to come,” said Michael Nagowski, chief executive officer of Cape Fear Valley Health. “Cape Fear Valley demonstrates this commitment by providing grants to Bladen Community College for instructors’ salaries and nursing scholarships to enrolled students. These initiatives help ensure a well-trained local workforce to care for Bladen County residents.”
Although inpatient maternity services will no longer be provided at the hospital, women can continue to receive prenatal and postnatal care locally at Bladen Women’s Health Specialists.
Patients who receive prenatal care at Bladen Women’s Health Specialists can elect to deliver at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville.