Less than 10 years after restarting its Obstetrics program, the Windber Medical Center (WMC) will stop delivering babies once again.
The decision to shutter this program came to many as somewhat of a surprise. Obstetricians at Windber have delivered approximately 200 babies per year since the program reopened in 2005. In addition, the Medical Center expanded its nursery less than two years ago.
Kim Oleska, Windber Medical Center spokesperson, said it’s the lack of obstetricians that is causing Windber to close the program.
“Two [obstetricians] are relocating, and two no longer wish to pursue the obstetric service," said Oleska.
Medical center President Barbara Cliff also cited a falling population of women of childbearing age in the region.
“With some of the future projections based on census data, we do know that women of childbearing age, which is considered ages 15-44, that that population in Cambria and Somerset County, has declined by seven percent,“ Cliff said.
While the medical center could have hired four new OB’s, Cliff said that process would have been too costly and time consuming.
“We did determine that it was too great of a risk of not being able to do it given the fact that this is a specialty and there’s not a lot of doctors in this specialty,” Cliff said. “So the ability to be assured that we would be able to recruit four physicians was just a risk that we didn’t want to take.”
During the transition period, WMC will work closely with its expectant mothers and is in preliminary discussions with local providers to accommodate future births. The information will be shared with all current patients.
The Medical Center in Windber, Somerset County, is located approximately 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.