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UH-Parma Hospital To Stop Delivering Babies In December

UH-Parma Medical Center is closing its maternity department at the end of the year.

The 332-bed hospital in the southwestern suburb of Cleveland will stop delivering babies on Dec. 1. The Parma facility will, however, continue to offer prenatal doctor visits and after-delivery services for patients, said Brian Monter, the hospital's president.

“We are seeing more of an aging population and subsequently we are seeing a decrease in births,” Monter said. “Last year we delivered 260 babies. This year we are on pace to deliver less than 200, which is not sustainable."

The dropping birthrate is a regional and national trend. According to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the national fertility rate has hit a historic low.

The number of births in the US dropped by 2 percent between 2017 and 2018, to 59 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, continuing a general downturn that started with the Great Recession of 2008.

It’s the lowest number of births in 32 years.

“In Cuyahoga County, since 1990, our birth rate has decreased by 40 percent, so it is pretty widespread," Monter said.

Most national standards advise hospitals should be doing about 1,000 births a year to keep the staff's skills sharp. The Parma facility has fallen significantly below that number, Monter said.

By announcing the end of delivery services at the Parma hospital now,  pregnant patients will have four months to plan and to choose a new location, he said.

There are four other UH hospitals within a 15-mile radius of the Parma location that will still deliver babies. Southwest General Health Center in Middleburg Heights, about eight miles away, is the closest.

The choice to drop maternity services comes during a time when the Parma hospital is expanding in other areas. The medical center is in the midst of a $27.5 million renovation and expansion of its surgery department.

According to a 2016 survey of hospital executives, orthopedic surgeons topped the list as the physician group that generated the most revenue for hospitals.

Although maternity departments tend to be one of the more expensive areas for hospitals to operate, cost was not the most important issue when the decision was made to end baby delivery at UH’s Parma facility, Monter said.

“It is expensive, but the biggest concern that you have is your ability to deliver the quality that your patients deserve,” he said.

Hospital officials said they will work with affected employees to explore other opportunities within the UH health system.

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