The hospital in Manistee will close their maternity unit on May 31. In a statement, the CEO of Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital James Barker says providing maternity services is a challenge for rural hospitals.
“The decision to close the [maternity] unit in Manistee was made after much deliberation,” Barker said. “Our goal is to ensure the long-term sustainability of the hospital while ensuring excellent, safe care for all patients.”
Patients in Manistee can still receive some prenatal and postnatal care at the hospital, but they can't give birth there. The hospital is directing those patients to the Munson Hospital in Cadillac, nearly an hour away.
The number of births at the hospital in Manistee has decreased and that has coincided with the area's aging population.
Ted Roelofs, a reporter for Bridge Magazine, says hospitals in rural areas can struggle to have a full range of services.
“They have to make a choice: can we continue to offer obstetrics care, or do we have to limit ourselves to primary functions that people in our area expect us to do,” Roelofs says.
He says the lack of maternal care can put a mother and child at risk.
A report from Bridge Magazine found that the number of birthing centers in northern Michigan has been declining over the past four decades.