News that Westerly Hospital will stop delivering babies had locals reeling on Wednesday.
“This is scary, Virginia McCormack wrote on Patch. “Imagine having to go all the way to L + M to deliver your baby, when Westerly Hospital is just a few minutes away.”
“Best part of that hospital is that department and the nurses are amazing,” Erin Santos Lautenslager wrote on the Stonington-Mystic Patch Facebook page.
Others like Michelle Young and Ashley Wilcox Bickford who each delivered children at Westerly Hospital wrote on the Stonington-Mystic Patch Facebook page had wonderful experiences at the hospital and were shocked and saddened to hear the news.
“Very sad,” Bickford wrote. “I had a great delivery there and the nurses were wonderful. Such a shame others won’t get to experience how great that whole floor is.”
According to the Westerly Sun, Westerly Hospital management and executives were told the hospital will cease deliveries on June 1.
The Westerly Hospital has faced years of financial troubles. In August of 2011, the hospital began exploring a possible alliance with Lawrence + Memorial Hospital . Then in December of 2011 the hospital filed for receivership saying the decision was a way to provide quality patient care while dealing with the hospital’s financial troubles. That filing put the talks for a partnership on hold. In August of 2012 a Rhode Island judge accepted a $69 million offer by L+M Hospital to acquire the hospital.
Michael O'Farrell, the director of public relations for L+M Hospital, said in a statement Wednesday that the hospital supported Westerly Hospital Mastership’s decision to stop delivering babies:
Due to low patient volumes and the staffing shortages, this, while difficult, is the right decision.
We have shared our vision and ideas with the mastership and will continue to work toward a plan to provide the best women’s health services to the Westerly community. Meanwhile, we are willing to assist the mastership in helping to stabilize the availability of gynecological, prenatal and post-partum obstetrical services in the Westerly service area.
According to the Westerly Sun, over the past 14 years births at the hospital have dropped from 500 per year to about 300. The hospital, the Sun reported, is developing a plan for the rest of the ob-gyn services. While details of that plan have not yet been announced, many feel the decision is a lost for the area.
“How incredibly sad for our community,” Sandra McLaren Wright wrote on Patch.