MUSCATINE, Iowa—Beginning Friday, Feb. 7, UnityPoint Health Trinity Muscatine Hospital (Trinity) suspended its birthing services. Patients can continue to access services at Trinity’s OB/GYN clinic (which provides prenatal and gynecological care) but expectant mothers must deliver elsewhere. In a statement to the media, Robert J. Erickson, President and CEO of UnityPoint Health—Trinity, said he expects deliveries to resume in Muscatine but did not provide a plan.
In his statement, Erickson explained UnityPoint Health would cease birthing services, “in an effort to better serve the Muscatine community,” and, “to provide expectant mothers with better consistency in physician coverage and a quality health care experience they’re looking for.”
According to the Community Health Assessment Report, Trinity provides the best regional prenatal care. Only 13% of Muscatine mothers lack prenatal care in their first trimester, compared with 26.3% in Scott County. Only 7.5% of Muscatine mothers consider their ease of obtaining prenatal and postnatal care fair to poor, compared with 8.3% in Scott County. Additionally, only 5% of children born in Muscatine County have low birth weights, lower than Scott County’s 7.3% average, and the United States average of 8.1%. Muscatine County also has a low infant mortality rate of 1.2 infants per 1,000 live births compared to 3.4 infants per 1,000 in Scott County and 5.9 per 1,000 nationwide.
Brian Boesen, Regional Marketing Director for UnityPoint Health, provided further details, stating UnityPoint stopped delivery services at Trinity because of an OB/GYN shortage. He elaborated, “Without consistent physician coverage, we cannot reliably provide these services to the community. The decision had to be made as we continue to see gaps in coverage, and we wanted to coordinate care proactively and reliably for the community, and that is why we are not doing births for the time being.”
Additionally, Boesen shared that UnityPoint Health has started looking into ways to attract more OB/GYNs to the region. He did not provide specifics on what incentives UnityPoint Health would offer or if they have begun the search for possible candidates.