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September 14, 2023

York Hospital will close birthing unit due to staff shortage

File photo / courtesy York Hospital York Hospital will close its inpatient labor and delivery unit on Sept. 25.

The labor crunch in Maine and elsewhere is forcing York Hospital to permanently close its inpatient birthing unit.

The 79-bed community hospital will shutter the unit Sept. 25 "due to the ongoing, nationwide shortage of health care workers," according to a news release Tuesday.

The hospital will continue to provide pre- and post-natal care at its campus off Lindsay Road in York Village, but will refer expectant mothers in need of labor and delivery services to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, N.H., 15 miles away.

York Hospital said it is currently not planning to close any additional services. Gynecological and pediatric care will also continue on the hospital campus.

“We’re keenly aware of the impact that this difficult decision will have on our patients and our community," said President and CEO Dr. Patrick Taylor. "Multiple steps were taken to keep the department open, but unfortunately, worker shortages have left us unable to provide the level of consistent, high-quality care our patients deserve.

“I’m grateful to the team at Wentworth-Douglass for their assistance in ensuring the safety and uninterrupted care of our patients, and I’m confident they will continue to provide a higher level of care for both our mothers and babies.”

In addition to the worker shortage, falling birth rates at the hospital led to the decision to close the unit, the release said.

A 2023 study published by the health care consulting firm Chartis found that across the country, at least 217 hospitals have closed their labor and delivery departments since 2011, including 19 within the last year.

In Maine, services have shut down over recent months at Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent, Rumford Hospital and St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston. Eleven of Maine’s 16 counties have just a single hospital offering birthing services.

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