BELLE GLADE, Fla. — Lakeside Medical Center near Belle Glade is discontinuing its labor and delivery unit, according to the city's mayor and members of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County Board.
The change leaves the nearest option for expecting mothers about 25 miles to the east at Palms West Hospital near Royal Palm Beach.
Lakeside Medical Center is a big part of the health care for people who live in the western communities of Palm Beach County.
Sources said the move is in a response to a decline in deliveries at the hospital. They said more expecting moms are traveling to the metro areas of central Palm Beach County to deliver their newborns.
"Lakeside Medical Center will always have the capability to deliver newborns around the clock," according to a statement from the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, which runs Lakeside Medical Center.
The Health Care District is implementing other services to assist soon-to-be moms.
Those services include the following, according to the health district:
- Offering 24/7 midwife coverage
- An additional OB-GYN in the Belle Glade clinic located inside the hospital to support prenatal services
- Non-emergency ground transport to transfer moms and babies to receive a higher level of care if needed
An ambulance service is expected to transport any mothers and newborns to Palms West Hospital.
"I was a little upset when I heard about it, but then I started looking at some of the factors and then some of the things we put in place to make certain that those mothers that are present at our hospital — and ready to deliver — we're able to provide that service for them," Tammy Jackson-Moore, Palm Beach County Health Care District Board Member, said. "I would not be sitting on the board if I thought that we would not be able to take care of mother and baby if she presented herself at the hospital."
Emergency services will still be available at Lakeside Medical Center for women in labor, but the formal delivery unit is going away.
"This new approach underscores the hospital's commitment to providing safe, quality and compassionate care for the communities in rural, western Palm Beach County," the Health Care District's statement read.