Redwood Memorial Hospital may soon lose its maternity ward.
The St. Joseph Health/Humboldt County Board of Trustees is considering a number of options, including moving the obstetrics program at the Fortuna location to St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka.
”It's not just about closing the obstetrics at Redwood,” St. Joseph Health spokeswoman Leslie Broomall said.
A community forum to discuss the issue is set for Thursday, Broomall said.
”We're just trying to map the future, and we're here to deliver health care to the community,” she said. “We're looking at some options to stabilize our program and to recruit some more ob-gyns here, and then we're also saying: 'What's the future of this program going to look like?'”
In an email to the Times-Standard, Fortuna Chamber of Commerce CEO Erin Dunn wrote the chamber looks forward to hearing from St. Joseph Health.
”I hope that they are open to hearing what the residents of the Eel River Valley have to say about the possibility of losing the obstetrics program in Fortuna,” Dunn wrote. “Our community cares passionately for Redwood Memorial Hospital, and the OB program is vital to the health of our hospital and our community.”
No decision has been made, but there is one ob-gyn at Redwood. Come January, there will only be one ob-gyn at St. Joseph, Broomall said. With the recent loss of ob-gyns, the board needs to make sure a viable program is available for women to deliver, she said.
In 2012, 588 babies were born at St. Joseph and 321 at Redwood Memorial, Broomall added.
Dr. Jack Anderson, the ob-gyn at Redwood Memorial, said the potential consolidation would have devastating safety and financial implications.
”What they're looking to do, I'm sure that there are noble reasons behind it, thinking they're helping the community at large, but they don't take into account it's a large geographic area that we service,” Anderson said. “Consider points like Alderpoint, Shelter Cove and Laytonville. In those types of places, people are just barely making it to our doors to deliver sometimes.”
Fortuna city officials said the hospital plays a vital role in the community.
”I do feel that the city of Fortuna and Southern Humboldt needs its own hospital with as much care as we can possibly get, and a maternity center is one that's needed in the area just to be a service to the community and the outlying areas,” Mayor Doug Strehl said. “You might say it's only 20 miles from Fortuna, but it's not 20 miles from Bridgeville or Petrolia.”
Councilwoman Tami Trent said the maternity ward is an important service for the area.
”Half of Fortuna's been born out of there,” Trent said. “It's a long drive to Eureka. It's nice to have a full service hospital.”
If you go:
What: Community meeting
Where: River Lodge Conference Center, 1800 Riverwalk Dr., Fortuna
When: Thursday at noon
Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.