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Hospital awaits word on maternity ward

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Albany/HV: Hospital awaits word on maternity ward
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Although most people agree, babies are certainly cute. The business of delivering them, according to one local hospital, isn't nearly as attractive. Our Christian Farrell has more on what the future holds for the maternity ward at Bon Secours Community Hospital in Port Jervis.

PORT JERVIS, N.Y. -- The welcoming sign calls it a great place to live, work and play. But if you're thinking of having a baby in Port Jervis, you might want to make other plans. Something apparently a lot of local residents are already doing.

"When Bon Secours Community Hospital was at its peak, they were doing somewhere between 350 and 400 deliveries a year," said Jeffrey Reilly.

According to hospital Senior Vice President Jeffrey Reilly, this year, that number is down to eight babies a month, or less than 100 deliveries a year.

The sharp drop in use of the maternity ward is what prompted hospital administration to contact the state department of health eight months ago to close it. Not exactly a popular decision in the community.

"I think it would be a big blow for the town if they were to close the maternity ward. It'd be a hardship," Port Jervis resident Joanne Raschke said.

The state has yet to rule on whether the maternity unit lives on or leaves town.

Hospital officials say the idea of shutting down the maternity unit isn't being driven solely by a declining number of deliveries. They say what's become an even bigger problem is finding doctors that want to work here in Port Jervis.

"We've spent a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of effort to try and recruit OBs into the market. We've been completely unsuccessful in that endeavor,” Reilly said. “Without OBs to provide services to patients, we're unable to get women to come to Bon Secours Community Hospital to have babies."

Hospital officials say should the state side with them, Port moms could still deliver a baby at the hospital in an emergency.

Reilly said, "We'd have a trained, on staff OB person that could handle that emergency. And then post delivery, we'd send them to Orange Regional."

Thus far, there is no word yet on when the state will weigh in on the maternity ward's future.

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