Paradise Valley Hospital plans to end obstetric services due to decline in births

National City’s Paradise Valley Hospital plans to end its obstetrics, labor and delivery services due to a steady decline in births, a pattern seen in San Diego County, officials said. health.

With the hospital’s birthing center due to close on August 4, a “comprehensive transition plan” is underway to connect pregnant women to nearby hospitals with obstetric services such as Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista and the Scripps Mercy San Diego. Each is located within a 10 mile radius of Paradise Valley.

“Our team has had the privilege of delivering tens of thousands of babies in National City, and the decision to close our obstetrics unit means we will redirect resources where there is greater community need,” Neerav Jadeja , CEO of Paradise Valley, said in a prepared statement. “The demand for perinatal care, labor and delivery, and neonatal services in Paradise Valley is not what it once was, and this has forced us to focus on developing other essential services as needed. community needs.

Paradise Valley has seen a decline in births over the past decade and recently averaged less than two births per day, Jadeja said. The decrease, however, occurred across the county and even across the country.

According to annual data from the state’s Office of Health Planning and Development, Paradise Valley recorded 792 births in 2019, the most recent year for which state-wide hospital data is available. available. By comparison, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center and Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista, South Bay’s other two major healthcare players, registered 2,189 and 1,620 births in 2019, respectively.

Paradise Valley has recently seen its volume decline year after year. The total was 930 in 2017 and 843 in 2018, according to state records.

state records also show that Paradise Valley has struggled at times to meet the staffing needs of its Labor and Delivery unit. After receiving “three related complaints” about staffing in April 2019, the California Department of Public Health found that supervisors called head nurses were assigned to patients for care on three different dates, from 15 April to May 25, 2019.

State standards, notes the CDPH, require nurses in charge to be available to assist any nurses they supervise and not to be tied to their own patients. The lack of staff was also documented in the hospital’s postpartum unit, the area of ​​the hospital where women go after childbirth, on November 14, 2018, after the state received and investigated two related complaints.

Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, for example, averaged 250 births per month and last year that number fell to around 150 to 180, hospital CEO Pablo Velez said.

“There is definitely a downward trend in births and we are seeing it in all areas, not just in Chula Vista,” he said.

South County has seen the highest number of births in the past two decades, but all six areas of San Diego County have seen a steady decline from 2000 to 2019, according to county data released in September. An estimated 44,200 births were reported in 2000 and in 2019 this number fell to 38,400. The highest number was recorded in 2007 with more than 47,500 people. The six regions are the northern coast, northern interior, north-central, central, eastern and southern.

California also saw a decline, reporting nearly 1,500 fewer births in 2019 than the year before, according to the State Department of Public Health. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 4% drop in the number of births in 2020 for the country (3.75 million to 3.6 million), marking the sixth consecutive year the number of births has increased. fall.

Velez and other health experts said the declines could be attributed to several reasons, including anxiety over the pandemic.

“The cost of living could be one and I think the pandemic has impacted many families with the country’s financial outlook,” Velez said.

Sharp Chula Vista will be able to accommodate Paradise Valley’s birth volume of about 30 to 40 per month, Velez said. The medical center currently has 19 labor and delivery beds, 27 postpartum beds and two operating theaters.

“We are ready to serve the community and I think we should be able to absorb this volume of patients,” he said.

Paradise Valley, with a 23-bed unit, will provide its roughly 40 employees affected by the shutdown of work in other departments, hospital officials said.

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