Effective April 1, 2012, the OB Unit at Chester River Hospital is closed. Here are the most frequently asked questions we have received from community members regarding the closure.
Q. Why did you close Chester River's Obstetrics Unit?
A. This difficult decision was in response to Dr. Moorman's practice change to deliver babies at Anne Arundel Medical Center.
Chester River Hospital administration met with Dr. Moorman on February 1, 2012, at which time Dr. Moorman announced his plans to stop delivering babies at Chester River Hospital and move his labor and delivery services to Anne Arundel Medical Center as of April 1. The CRHS Board evaluated the obstetrics department's viability, and without an obstetrics practice located in Kent County committed to delivering babies at CRHC, the hospital is not able to maintain an obstetrics unit. Closing the obstetrics unit is really the only option at this time, considering it takes 12 to 18 months to recruit an obstetrician to a rural area like Kent County, and CRHC would need to recruit at least two obstetricians to make the service workable. Additionally, since Drs. Moorman & Webb intend to continue providing prenatal and postnatal care to the Kent County community from their Chestertown office, establishing a second, competing obstetrics group would not be practical, since the county's population cannot support four OB physicians. CRHC has the lowest number of births of any hospital in Maryland—186 babies were delivered in 2011. The next lowest hospital, in Garrett Country, had 50 percent more births than Chester River. In comparison, Memorial Hospital in Easton had more than 1,000 births during the same time period, while Anne Arundel Medical Center had nearly 5,000 births.
Q. Why can't UMMS provide two Obstetricians to relocate to Kent County? I thought joining UMMS would ensure that services were maintained at CRHC, not lost.
A. Merging with UMMS benefitted CRHC by providing access to additional resources and specialists. However, UMMS cannot change the fact that it's not viable for more than two OB physicians to practice in Kent County. Drs. Moorman & Webb intend to continue providing prenatal and postnatal care to the Kent County community from their Chestertown office. With current population trends, Kent County can only support 2 OBs.
Q. I heard that Chester River Hospital will get money by closing its OB Unit, is that true?
A. Chester River Hospital does not gain by closing the OB Unit. In fact, under the current rate structure CRHC is expecting to experience a loss in revenue.
Q. Have you looked into adding Midwives to CRHC?
A. We have researched midwives and birthing centers. Midwives need to have OBs as a backup, in case the patient has surgical or anesthetic needs, so CRHC is in the same situation having to recruit for two OBs to provide the necessary backup.
Q. I heard that CRHC needs to close their OB Unit in order for Shore Health to get the necessary Certificate of Need (CON) for the new hospital, is that true? Is the closing of CRHC's OB Unit part of the regionalization plan?
A. CRHC needing to close its OB Unit is in response to the practice decision, made by the only OB in Kent County, to move labor and delivery to AAMC beginning April 1. This is not part of the regionalization study process, which does include reviewing all service lines and departments, both clinical and nonclinical, at each health system. The regionalization study committee will review OB services and what is available in the five county area, as part of the study process. The number of births that may migrate to Easton Memorial Hospital due to Dr. Moorman's practice change, does not impact the new hospital plans.
Q. How will emergent cases be handled once the OB Unit is closed at Chester River Hospital? Is the Emergency Department (ED) equipped and able to deliver a baby?
A. If a pregnant woman arrives in labor after March 31, 2012, the woman will be transferred to another hospital unless the baby is coming too quickly to allow for a safe transfer or if other complications make a transfer unsafe. Women will be medically screened in the ED to determine how active their labor is and how close to delivery they appear to be. The Emergency Department at CRHC is prepared to provide care for emergency obstetrical patients.
Chester River Hospital has communicated with Kent and Queen Anne's Counties' EMS officials to ensure a smooth transition both during and after the OB Unit closure. Kent and Queen Anne's counties' EMS providers utilize existing Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) pre-hospital protocols, which are in place to ensure that patients are transferred to the closest appropriate hospital to receive definitive care as soon as possible. The Maryland Medical Protocols were developed to standardize the emergency patient care that EMS providers, through medical consultation, deliver at the scene of illness or injury and while transporting the patient to the closest appropriate hospital.
Q. Where will prenatal and postnatal services be available?
A. Dr. Moorman & Associates will continue to provide prenatal, postnatal and gynecological services at their office in Chestertown. They will not be delivering babies at Chester River Hospital Center however they intend to continue to perform gynecological procedures at CRHC.
Q. What was the process to close the unit?
A. A formal, public informational hearing was held on March 12, 2012, at which time a PowerPoint presentation was shared with the audience. The presentation covered the reasons why Chester River Hospital Center's OB Unit was closing, as well as other relevant information. At the conclusion of the presentation, audience members asked questions and made comments. If you would like to view the presentation, it is on the homepage of the Chester River Health System's website.
Click here to read the letter released to the public in February 2012 regarding the change in OB Services
Click here to download the full presentation made at the March 2012 Public Hearing