CASEY WALTRIP: Wants Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital to keep OB Unit open

TO THE EDITOR:

I am writing on behalf of our doctors, nurses, patients and community in Manistee.

On April 30, our community was made aware that our OB Department would be closing May 31, leaving dozens upon dozens of women, without a safe, secure environment to deliver their baby. Some of these women are due within days of the closure, only to scramble now, trying to find a doctor to deliver their baby.

Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital is suggesting these women travel to the nearest hospital (within their healthcare system) in Cadillac, which is 45 miles away, now with road construction causing detours, meaning more travel time. Spectrum Hospital in Ludington, is 30 miles away, but it’s not an option given. They are putting the lives of mothers and unborn babies at risk of complications and even death.

We have been informed by ER nurse, Kari, that if a mother goes to the ER in active labor, meaning 6-7 cm dilated, she will not be transported and will deliver in Manistee’s ER. She could be next to a person overdosing or someone with a contagious disease that the newborn could contract, further putting their tiny life at risk. Our ER is not adequately trained to handle high risk pregnancies, complicated births, dangerous births. They are understaffed heading into the “busy” season of our tourist town. OB nurses “job shadow” for six months prior to taking the floor alone — the ER staff is currently taking online tutorials through HealthStream. They only have two ER nurses trained for neonatal issues.

The numbers as to why the OB Department is being closed do not make sense. For instance the hospital board has stated that there were 150 births last year, leaving 215 open days/unused beds in the OB Department. That cannot be true. A normal, uncomplicated birth requires a two day stay. C-sections, complications during birth, infant issues (jaundice, for instance) require extra days. Other female health related issues such as hysterectomies, ectopic pregnancies and other female surgeries, require hospitalization and recovery — in the OB Department if available.

Our OB Department is vital to our community. Closing this department would cause families to move away due to losing their jobs. Closing this department would make young families think twice about moving here, even to Michigan in general. Closing this would drive our real estate opportunities down, eliminate income for local businesses, make our small towns even smaller. The OB Department is the heart and soul of our community. Life begins here!

We feel, as a community, Munson Healthcare Manistee, only cares about profit. And as much as I know businesses need profit, they’ve stated that the hospital is making money, so why not allocate some to a department that our community needs so desperately? Does the future of Manistee not deserve a chance?

The Facebook group, Take Back Munson Healthcare Manistee OB has 1,200 members. We want to be heard, we our OB to remain open.

Casey Waltrip

Manistee

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