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Changes to labor and delivery services coming to Martin County's only delivery hospital

Posted at 12:02 AM, Sep 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-26 00:02:11-04

STUART, Fla.  — Pregnancy plans are changing in Martin County for some local women, as some big changes are coming to the county’s only hospital that does deliveries.

Cleveland Clinic Martin Health announced Physician to Women requested to end its privileges to deliver babies at the Cleveland Clinic Martin Health North Hospital.

This means women who see an Obstetrician at Physicians to Women, planning to deliver their baby at Cleveland Clinic Martin Health North with their Physicians to Women OB, will not be able to do so in Martin County after November 1.

Instead, Physicians to Women obtained delivery privileges at St. Lucie Medical Center.

Cleveland Clinic Martin Health President Rob Lord said the decision was a surprise.

“A physician with whom I have a wonderful relationship with came to me and said the group had made a decision. I asked if there was anything I could do to change it, there wasn’t, and so I wished them the best,” Lord said.

Lord said babies have been delivered at their hospital for 80 years and they are working hard to make sure that will not change.

Lord says they are working on short term and long term plans, none of which are set in stone.

However, Lord said in the short-term, the hospital is looking to have in house Laborists and Midwives to conduct deliveries starting November 1.

Long-term, they are looking to give privileges to other physician groups and hire in-house Obstetricians. The long term plan could take a year to complete.

“It’s an issue I wish I didn’t have to deal with, we all wish we didn’t, but we’ll be able to take care of it,” Lord said.

So, why did Physicians to Women back out?

The official statement states they feel they will be able to give their patients an enhanced experience at St. Lucie Medical Center.

In a statement from St. Lucie Medical Center, a spokesperson said “St. Lucie Medical Center is expanding its OB services by providing patients with 24/7 access to an Obstetrician on the campus, in house anesthesiologists and Neonatology services.”

Cleveland Clinic Martin Health does not have an in-house Neonatologist but has a nurse practitioner specializing in neonatology 24/7. They also have nurses trained in NICU care. A Neonatologist is available for consult and on-call.

The in-house professionals can be a critical part of care for a new mother and a newborn baby.

In an inspection report from March of 2019, details were revealed that it took an on-call Neonatologist 20 minutes to arrive on-site to care for a baby needing medical attention at the Cleveland Clinic Martin Health North Hospital.

Moms say the news would be tough to hear if they were far along in their pregnancy.

Kristen Lewis is the mother of a 4-year-old and a 3-month old.

During both of her pregnancies, she says a well thought out delivery plan kept her stress at bay.

“It was nice to know that we were going somewhere [to deliver] where we had a great experience the first time,” Lewis said.

Changing the delivery hospital might have been an added stress and tough to handle, she said.

“Definitely would have been more stressful having to learn about a new hospital and not know what to expect from that new hospital,” Lewis said. “I would imagine they’re probably pretty stressed out."