Local Obstetrical Practice to Stop Delivering Babies at Chester River Hospital April 1

February 2, 2012  — Chester River Hospital Center was notified yesterday that Chestertown’s only obstetrics/gynecology practice, headed by Anthony Moorman, M.D., will stop delivering babies at the hospital effective April 1, 2012.  In a meeting with hospital administration, Dr. Moorman explained that his practice will continue to provide local prenatal and postnatal care to the Kent county community, but that he and his associate, Dr. Lisa Webb, will deliver newborns at Anne Arundel Medical Center, the state’s second largest maternity hospital based on number of babies delivered each year. Moorman also indicated that he intends to continue providing gynecological services at Chester River Hospital.

“Typically these types of notifications are made as long as a year in advance of such changes, but in this case we have been given 60 days,” explained Stanley Minken, M.D., chief medical officer at Chester River Hospital Center. Upon receiving Dr. Moorman’s notification about the change to his obstetrical practice, Chester River Hospital administration reached out immediately to both University of Maryland Medical System and its sister health system, Shore Health, to begin exploring options.

Chester River Hospital Center, like many rural community hospitals, does not employ its own obstetricians/gynecologists. “Hospitals like Chester River Hospital Center provide the facility to deliver babies, but hospitals don’t deliver babies. Doctors deliver babies,” explained Wayne Gardner, chairperson of Chester River Health System’s board of directors. Gardner noted that the hospital had invested nearly $500,000 to enhance its obstetrics facilities.

Chester River Hospital Center has notified the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene of Dr. Moorman’s announcement because without an obstetrician located in proximity, the hospital would not be permitted to provide OB coverage. Finding replacement obstetricians is not easy, however. On average, it takes 12 to 18 months to recruit an obstetrician. The challenge of recruiting is even greater in rural areas such as Kent County, where the number of births is low. According to data from the Maryland Health Care Commission, Chester River Hospital Center has the lowest number of births of any hospital in Maryland, with 183 babies delivered in the 12-month period from July 2010 to June 2011. The next lowest hospital, in Garrett County, had 50% more births than Chester River. Memorial Hospital in Easton had more than a thousands births during the same time period, while Anne Arundel Medical Center had nearly 5,000 births.

The hospital is currently making a list of obstetricians available for women who are pregnant and expecting to deliver after April 1. The list includes obstetricians located on the Mid-shore, in both Easton and Elkton, who are currently accepting new patients.