Alameda Hospital to Close ‘Costly’ Maternity Ward
Hoping to curb financial losses, Alameda Hospital will close its maternity ward Jan. 31, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The number of deliveries the hospital handles has declined from a peak of 565 in 1996 to about 260 deliveries in 2000. Alameda Hospital, one of the last independent Bay Area medical centers, is losing about $885,000 per year on maternity services. David O'Neill, the hospital's CEO, said: "This is a very difficulty decision which the board struggled with. ... The managed care environment and the financial and logistical pressures of maintaining a small community hospital maternity service forced us to reorient our focus on the full range of the other medical, surgical, diagnostic and therapeutic services that we provide." Besides struggling to provide 24-hour, seven-day-a-week nurse staffing, the hospital also has had to deal with decreasing reimbursements, increased competition from area hospitals and a declining birth rate. Twenty-seven full- and part-time nurses unionized under the California Nurses Association will be affected by the closure, but Joseph Lindsay, the union's arbitration director, said that the union has "no complaint" with the decision to close the ward. The nurses are expected to fill jobs in other maternity wards. Berkeley's Alta Bates Medical Center and Oakland's Summit Medical Center are expected to absorb all or nearly all the deliveries Alameda otherwise would have handled (Raine, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.