Metro-East News

Touchette Regional Hospital working to avoid layoffs in obstetrics

This 2008 file photo shows the exterior of Touchette Regional Hospital in Centreville.
This 2008 file photo shows the exterior of Touchette Regional Hospital in Centreville. News-Democrat file photo

As Touchette Regional Hospital transitions its labor and delivery services to Memorial Hospital Belleville by June 30 or sooner, it will be working to avoid layoffs and reuse technology and beds elsewhere.

Larry McCulley, president and CEO of Touchette, said in a submitted statement that the hospital is temporarily suspending its obstetrics services.

The Centreville hospital saw a 66 percent decrease in deliveries in the last decade, according to a news release. While Touchette delivers about 250 babies annually, the release states that Memorial Hospital Belleville delivered more than 800 babies last year.

Sulbrena Day, chief operating officer of Touchette, said in response to submitted questions that the hospital recently started discussions with Memorial about sending Touchette’s labor and delivery patients there.

“We are working closely with Memorial Hospital Belleville to make sure the transition is as seamless as possible and that patients have the care they need for them and their new baby,” Day said in an email to the News-Democrat through a third-party public relations representative.

Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Anne Thomure said officials expected to see fewer births at the Belleville campus when the Memorial Hospital East facility opened last year. But she said the agreement to take on Touchette’s patients is not related to the opening of the new hospital in Shiloh.

250 babies delivered at Touchette Regional Hospital annually

800 babies delivered at Memorial Hospital Belleville last year

Touchette expects to avoid layoffs of its labor and delivery employees by moving them to different departments or transferring them to Memorial Hospital Belleville, according to a representative from the hospital’s public relations company, Cork Tree Creative, Inc. A Memorial spokesperson did not respond when asked whether some Touchette employees could begin working at Memorial.

McCulley said that suspending labor and delivery services will give Touchette a chance to assess potential expansion and growth in substance abuse and behavioral health in the future. Touchette will also consider ways to restructure women’s health care and medical services, he said.

Touchette plans to continue using 10 beds from the labor and delivery ward in its Behavioral Health and Wellness Center, which opened last year, making it a 40-bed inpatient and outpatient care provider.

Day said there has been an increase in the need for behavioral health services, with 5,622 more visits and 625 more admissions from 2015 to 2016.

Other technology that was recently added to the obstetrics department could be used elsewhere, too, Day said. Among the new technology are wireless monitors and a bedside documentation system, according to the hospital’s website.

“We are doing an internal analysis of the equipment dedicated to the OB department and are developing a plan on how to best utilize or repurpose the equipment as we prepare to transition services,” Day said.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes