Pioneer Memorial Hospital plans to phase out its obstetric services by the end of 2009. The difficult decision means that babies will no longer be born at the Prineville hospital due to a decrease in the number of primary care physicians available in Crook County to provide the service.
“We have spent more than two years working to recruit new primary care physicians who offer obstetric services to Crook County, but so far we’ve been unsuccessful in that effort,” said Don Wee, CEO of PMH. “We will continue to recruit and hope that if we are able to stabilize the primary care situation in Prineville we will be able to reevaluate offering obstetrical services in the future.”
A shortage of primary care physicians exists nationwide. The American Academy of Family Physicians predicts that the United States will be short more than 40,000 primary care physicians within the next 10 years. Several of the physicians who currently provide obstetric services in Prineville have indicated plans to leave the area or to stop providing obstetric care in coming months.
“While we are sad to make this decision, the reality is that we can’t offer obstetric services if we don’t have enough physicians to safely provide care to our patients,” Wee said. “Cascade Healthcare Community is working with PMH to provide the best service we can under these circumstances.”
Approximately 150 babies are born at PMH annually. In 2007 the hospital saw a record number of 172 births, while in 2008, 137 babies were born at the Prineville facility.
“We have treasured our role in welcoming new members of the Prineville community at PMH through the years,” Wee said. “And while we are sad to give up this service, we believe it is crucial to protect patient safety.”
PMH is looking into offering new and expanded health services in the space currently occupied by labor and delivery in the hospital. PMH’s goal is to maintain prenatal care in the Prineville community.