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What it will take to save obstetrics

By Kelly Mather

Many in our community have made it clear they want to save the obstetrics program at Sonoma Valley Hospital. I truly share this sentiment, but the question remains, at what cost and for how long? We gained some breathing room recently when the Medicare funds that help us pay for this program were restored. These funds had been cut in September, increasing our annual loss on obstetrics from $500,000 to $1 million. That’s what forced us to re-examine the situation. But we still have decisions to make.

For several years, we have been working conscientiously to give Sonoma the hospital it needs and wants, even while the health care industry undergoes profound change. As costs increase and government compensation continues to be cut, the hospital has reduced expenses while strengthening those services the community sees as a priority. Our new ER is a great example of this.

We understand that our mission is to serve the community. But ours is a very small community, which means that some services have low use, making them financially challenging, if not unsustainable.

We would prefer not to close OB, but we have to face the reality that there are few births in our Valley, and that many prenatal patients choose to deliver elsewhere.

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