By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A second hospital in Wyoming has announced it will stop providing labor and delivery services in the near future.
The Memorial Hospital of Carbon County in Rawlins will soon discontinue obstetrics services, hospital spokeswoman Stephanie Hinkle told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.
“An exact closure date has yet to be determined,” she said. “We are working through a number of these topics this week, as the decision was just made last Thursday.”
The hospital’s board of trustees made the decision Thursday after an “extensive” executive session during its regular meeting.
Hinkle told Cowboy State Daily that by eliminating the services, the hospital will save an estimated $2 million.
“This was an incredibly difficult and emotional decision for the Board. The cost of traveling nurses has played a significant role in the eroding cash position of the organization,” board Chair Rod Waeckerlin said Friday.
“Labor and Delivery is a unique service line that requires intensive staffing. Unfortunately, as a result of the pandemic, MHCC has lost a number of nursing staff, forcing a reliance on traveling nurses and creating a financial imbalance operationally,” he said.
The hospital currently has three traveling nurses in the obstetrics department, Hinkle said.
It was unclear how many patients would be affected by the end of the services, but Hinkle said more information would be provided during a news conference later this week.
In March, the South Lincoln Medical Center in Kemmerer announced it would also end labor and delivery services beginning June 1 due to staffing issues.
Hospitals in Wyoming and nationally have been facing financial and staffing issues, partially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gillette’s hospital, Campbell County Health, is projecting $10 million in losses this year. Its officials estimate the hospital could be bankrupt by 2026 without major changes, some of which are already being implemented.
Nineteen rural hospitals in the United States closed in 2020 and more than 180 have closed since 2005, according to the University of North Carolina, which tracks the number of rural hospitals in the nation.
The 19 closures in 2020 was the biggest loss of rural hospitals in one year since UNC began tracking those records.