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May 12, 2022

Lewiston hospital will close units, consolidating maternity care with neighbor

Courtesy / St. Mary's Regional Medical Center St. Mary's Regional Medical Center will close its maternity and women's health center in July.

St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston on Wednesday said it will close its maternity and women’s health unit at the end of July due to declining birth rates in the area.

The 233-bed hospital, just south of Bates College, plans to transfer patients and their medical records over the coming weeks to Central Maine Medical Center, about a mile away in downtown Lewiston.

St. Mary's President Steve Jorgensen said the hospital will find other jobs for employees affected by the closure.

“The decision to close our maternity services was difficult and emotional, but is in the best interest of our community,” Jorgensen said in a news release. “Our staff in the Women’s Health Center are dedicated and caring professionals that will continue to provide exemplary medical services in our communities if they so choose.

"We are committed to retain and retrain any staff who wish to remain at St. Mary’s after the Women’s Center closes and CMMC will hire any staff that wants to stay with the women’s health program.”

St. Mary's, founded in 1888, employs a total of about 1,230 people.

Despite a brief uptick in 2014, birth rates nationwide have been in decline since 2008, according to the release. Androscoggin County and the surrounding areas have also been in decline and experienced even greater changes in newborn discharges than in most other areas of the state.  

Both St. Mary’s and CMMC have seen a steady decline in birth rates at their hospitals since 2017 and had a combined total of only 1,044 births in 2021. That compares with years past when each hospital regularly handled over 1,000 births per year.

The consolidation was recommended and approved by the boards of St. Mary’s Health System and its parent company, Covenant Health, a Catholic health care system headquartered in Massachusetts. St. Mary's also has a longstanding clinical affiliation with MaineHealth, the state's largest health care system.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services, which regulates health care facilities, was notified of the pending change.

“With the availability of a Level 2 neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) and LifeFlight services in our community at CMMC, we felt that our communities will be well-served to care for all patients, including in the case of high-risk pregnancies. We will work together with our parent organization, Covenant Health, CMMC or any other health care provider of choice, to ensure a smooth and orderly transition for our patients,” Jorgensen said.

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