UH Parma Medical Center to end labor and delivery services

PARMA, Ohio-- University Hospitals Parma Medical Center is ending labor and delivery services in December.

Hospital leaders, who announced the decision Friday, said it was because of the declining number of births at the facility in recent years.

"We've seen our birth rates decline year on year for the last several years," UH Parma Medical Center President Brian Monter said. "It's to the point where it's really not sustainable."

The change was expected to affect 28 employee positions, according to the hospital. University Hospitals said it will work to find the employees, who are mostly nurses, other positions within the health system.

UH Parma Medical Center, which opened in 1961 and became part of the University Hospitals system in 2014, was built to accommodate the skyrocketing number of births during the baby boom generation.

In 2015, there were 616 deliveries at the hospital, but that number fell to 262 in 2018. Monter said the hospital was on track to have fewer than 200 deliveries this year.

He said more women are choosing to deliver their children at hospitals with neonatal intensive care units. Birth rates are also declining nationwide.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, the number of births in Cuyahoga County fell by nearly 15 percent, from 16,249 in 2008 to 13,873 in 2018. Statewide, births fell by about 9 percent, from 148,592 in 2008 to 135,226 in 2018.

Experts have said the declining birth rate could be the result of a reduction in teenage pregnancies and a lingering effect of the recession, as young professionals struggle to find career and financial stability.

Monter said the hospital planned to expand other women's health care services. The hospital will still provide prenatal and postpartum care. It's also undergoing a $27.5 million expansion of its surgery unit.

"We're trying to pivot to a different model where we can focus on what our community needs and looking to develop more of an ambulatory focus, an outpatient center, that addresses the healthcare concerns of women of all ages," Monter said.

University Hospitals said it is maintaining childbirth services at several other hospitals.

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