No more babies will be delivered at the Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) made the decision to cancel their Obstetrics Department — which delivers babies — after a dramatic decrease from 81 babies delivered last year to only 31 babies delivered this year to date. The change will be effective as of Dec. 20, 2019.
“The Lacombe Hospital will no longer be delivering babies. That has come after a lengthy review of our obstetric services and our birth rate at the facility,” AHS Area Manager for Lacombe and Bentley Kimberley Sommerville said.
The choice was purely a patient safety issue and not a budget issue accoriding to Sommerville.
AHS consulted with physicians, nurses and staff and also received patient feedback before they made the choice.
“A growing number of women here in Lacombe are actually choosing to have their babies elsewhere because of the ability to have the surgical backup or epidural, which we cannot offer in Lacombe at this time,” Sommerville said.
Obstetric services requires a competency of training throughout all nurses, physicians and staff involved. With the decreasing number of babies being delivered, it became a safety issue ensuring all parties are adequately prepared.
“Because obstetrics is a high-risk practice that requires a team of nurses and physicians to be kept up on their skills, we need to be able to deliver babies frequently,” Sommerville said.
The Lacombe Hospital already had the practice of referring high-risk births to other facilities. With the change, low-risk births will now also be refered to the facility of their choice.
“Low-risk deliveries can still work with their local physicians to continue that pre-natal care,” Sommerville said
At around 30 weeks, expecting parents will be transitioned from their local physician to a physician for delivery at either the Red Deer Hospital, the Ponoka Hospital or the Stettler Hospital.
“If there is an imminent birth, like the one we experienced here in our parking lot not long ago, we will have the ability to assist in that moment and then arrange transport via EMS to the facility of their choice,” Sommerville added.
Sommerville reiterated that this is not a budget decision and no AHS jobs will be lost because of the change.
“It was not a financial decision at all,” she said.
Expecting families are being contacted by their local physicians informing them directly of the change.