Rural hospitals in the United States are struggling to keep their obstetric services going for various reasons, ranging from staffing shortages and inflation to lower birth volumes and financial hardship.
Hospitals in rural locations simply cannot provide maternal care if they don’t have enough volume or resources to run their labor and delivery units. According to a recent study from the University of Minnesota published in JAMA health forum, rural hospitals need to perform at least 200 births a year to maintain patient safety and financial viability. About 42% of rural hospitals with obstetric care in the study did not have enough deliveries in 2021 for their units to be profitable.
In an eight year span, nearly 200 rural hospitals eliminated obstetrics care, which amounts to almost 20% of all U.S. rural hospitals that previously offered such care, according to a report from the Chartis Center for Rural Health.
The reduction in rural hospital obstetric services in the U.S. creates maternal care deserts, where pregnant women must leave their communities and travel further distances for maternal care, which presents higher risks when childbirth is imminent and if emergencies occur.
Alternative obstetrics solutions needed
Rural hospital leaders are seeking alternative obstetric solutions to provide patients with local access to maternal care and to keep their labor and delivery doors open.
Recognizing the severity of the situation and the need to bring care to patients in regions of greatest need, Ob Hospitalist Group (OBHG) offers flexible maternal health access solutions for hospitals that need extra support and resources to extend their obstetric services. These may include solutions such as:
- Part-time physician coverage
- Alternative clinician coverage
- In-market call coverage
- OB/GYN clinic support
- OB telehealth
OBHG works with hospitals of all sizes to provide programs to support staff and ensure that maternal services remain in the community. If you’d like to learn more about OBHG’s flexible maternal health access solutions, click here or contact us to request a consultation.