Metro-East News

Touchette Regional Hospital to close labor and delivery ward

Touchette Regional Hospital officials announced Friday that the Centreville facility will close its labor and delivery ward by the end of June due to a declining number of births. The hospital’s labor and delivery patients will soon have to seek care at Memorial Hospital Belleville.

While the announced shift in services is scheduled to take effect June 30, it could happen sooner, pending the Certificate of Exemption by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, according to a release from Touchette’s public relations company, Cork Tree Creative, Inc.

Larry McCulley, president and CEO of Touchette Regional Hospital, cited a regional shift in population as cause for the dramatic decrease in the number of births at the hospital, which is at about 250 annually, a stark decline of 66 percent from the previous decade.

In contrast, Memorial Hospital Belleville delivered more than 800 babies in 2016, the release stated.

The change in location may make accessibility to labor and delivery services more difficult for some residents living near Touchette, but officials say they are addressing potential issues.

“We are working in partnership with Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation and Memorial Hospital Belleville on the transition plan, which includes transportation services,” Sulbrena Day, chief operating officer of Touchette Regional Hospital, said in an email to the BND through a third-party public relations representative.

The release stated the hospital would take the resources previously focused on labor and delivery and direct them toward outpatient specialty and behavioral health services.

Officials will do this in part by bringing 10 inpatient beds from the OB/GYN services to the hospital’s Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.

“We are working closely with Memorial Hospital Belleville on the transition. Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation OB/GYN providers will be on the medical staff at Memorial Belleville, and we have formed a team to make this transition as seamless as possible,” McCulley said in the release. “Our team looks forward to working with Memorial Hospital Belleville to support labor and delivery services for our patients.”