Mostly clear

Sonoma Valley Hospital: Babies back on board

Five days after formally asking the Sonoma Valley Hospital board of directors to shut obstetrics for financial reasons, administrators are temporarily withdrawing the request due to a new development.

“The hospital has learned that the Medicare funding supporting the program, which was cut in October 2013 and precipitated a reassessment of this program, has been restored,” administrators said Wednesday in a prepared statement.

That funding comes from the Disproportionate Share Hospital program, or DSH (pronounced “dish”), a part of the Affordable Care Act. The program sets aside billions for hospitals treating a high percentage of low-income patients – as Sonoma Valley Hospital does – and it was taken away then reinstated recently during the twists and turns of Obama-care implementation.

For this reason, hospital CEO Kelly Mather – who made the case for closing obstetrics at the board’s regular meeting on Thursday, Jan. 9 – is now asking the board to put off any decision for a few months.

“Now that DSH funds, which have underwritten a large part of the cost of the hospital’s obstetrics program in recent years, have been restored, this gives us some breathing room to explore options to continue the services,” Mather said in the statement.

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