Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Delivery: Regional Closes Obstetrics

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Delivery: Regional Closes Obstetrics

Article excerpt

An unnatural quiet reigned in the third floor hallway at St. Louis Regional Medical Center last week.

White plastic chairs, where medical residents once perched between delivering babies, lay empty and forlorn. Their former occupants had all gone.

In a large room down the hall, tiny incubators were neatly arranged in rows. Each one was empty, except for the gathering dust. A caterwaul of newborns once filled these rooms. On this day, all was silent but for the hushed tones of employees finishing their work. After 10 years of caring for poor and uninsured women about to give birth, Regional's obstetrics department will quietly close its doors today and cease to exist. The rest of the hospital will be unaffected, officials say. But no more babies will be born here. It's a shame, said 32-year-old Keith Porter, sitting in a rocking chair on the same floor where, 24 hours earlier, his son, Keith Porter Jr., was born. "This hospital is right in the center of St. Louis. You can basically get here from any bus line. MetroLink is right down the street," Porter said. "It's kind of like when they closed down the old Homer G. Phillips Hospital," a city-owned facility that shut a decade ago. Keith Jr.'s mother, 41-year-old Yolanda Ayuso, said she delivered with a nurse-midwife and believes it may be hard to find another St. Louis area hospital that uses midwives. "My midwife went step by step through everything, and she came back this morning to check on me," Ayuso said. During the last decade, Regional's obstetrics department carved out a reputation for quality. Despite the sparse prenatal care that many women who delivered there received, the hospital had one of the lowest rates of Caesarean sections in the state. A low C-section rate is often considered an important measure of quality care. Regional's doctors, nurses and midwives battled constantly to deliver healthy babies from so-called high-risk pregnancies - those involving women over age 40, with high blood pressure, disease, or who drank and smoked excessively. …

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