By Jennifer Tittsworth / Guest writer
Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital officials announced Wednesday that Labor and Delivery services will be discontinued the first week in December with the OB/GYN practice closing on Tuesday, Dec. 31.
“Throughout the United States, rural and community hospitals have seen a sharp decline in these service areas as more women are choosing larger systems for their OB/GYN care or at a point in their life when they no longer need obstetrical services,” said Mark Kimball, Chief Executive Officer for EWCH. “Our region has seen this same shift in demographics and the choices women make over the course of many years.”
Regional labor, delivery and obstetrics options include Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva, N.C., Erlanger East and Erlanger Baroness Hospitals in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Medical care will be available to pregnant women who need emergency services. The EWCH emergency department is available 24/7 to assess and stabilize patients until they can be transported to another facility. Through partnerships with other area hospitals as well as Erlanger Baroness and Erlanger East NICU departments and Life Force air medical neonatal transport, medical expertise will be available to provide further assistance.
General women’s health and screening services continue to be available through Erlanger primary care offices. Dr. Karen Davis in Hayesville and Drs. Dena Snead and Matthew Snead in Andrews are accepting new patients and can provide routine medical care as well as well-woman exams.
“We understand how much our hospital means to our employees and to the many people born here and who live in this region,” added Kimball. “We will work with our staff to offer other job opportunities during this transition and want the surrounding communities to know we are here to care for their residents.”
Patients are encouraged to call Erlanger during normal business hours at (828) 837-1332 with any questions they might have.