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A photo of a hospital emergency room sign

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STATEWIDE — Several hospitals in Indiana have been doing away with labor and delivery services in the last few months.

Perry County Memorial Hospital as well as Parkview Health in DeKalb County and LaGrange County are some of the big-name hospitals that have given the axe to labor and delivery as they try to navigate their way through a tough time in the healthcare industry.

Brian Tabor, who is president of the Indiana Hospital Association, says that overall healthcare costs are a “big problem” in Indiana and that the loss of OBG/YN services in a few hospitals is a side effect of that.

But, he said it goes deeper than finances.

“Finances and the strain on hospitals may be a portion of that,” Tabor said on Indy Politics. “But,, it is really hard to recruit and retain providers that you need to deliver that service in a reliable and safe way.”

Tabor said he spoke with leaders of one of the aforementioned healthcare systems and said that in one instance there was only one obstetrician available for that rural area and that they used to be able to get back-up from another obstetrician nearby. When one of them retired and the other moved out of state, it became difficult to be able to find another doctor to fill that void.

“The length of time that it would take to recruit another individual to that community, a rural community, so you have to pay a big premium to get someone in many cases,” Tabor said. “It’s not just doctors … you also have to have trained OB nurses.”

Tabor blames burnout from the COVID pandemic forcing nurses to retire early for the lack of obstetric nurses available. That coupled with the financial strain the industry is feeling makes for a back cacophony of issues that makes it difficult to offer labor and delivery services, Tabor says.

In the case of Parkview Health in northern Indiana, now the only option for women in DeKalb and LaGrange Counties will most likely be having to drive up to an hour away to Fort Wayne to get obstetric services.