Valley Health Warren Memorial Hospital (WMH) has had to accelerate its
timeline for discontinuing obstetric services. The Women’s Care
Center will likely stop delivering babies on May 1, although hospital
and health system leaders and physicians are actively working to maintain
the service at WMH as long as possible.
The difficult decision to discontinue labor and delivery services at the
new hospital was announced in December, 2017, when Valley Health submitted
plans to build a nearly $100 million replacement hospital campus to the
Commonwealth of Virginia for approval.
With annual births averaging less than one delivery a day at the current
hospital, Warren County population projections favoring older adults,
and robust pregnancy, OB, and neonatal ICU care at nearby Winchester Medical
Center, it was determined that the new facility would not include an obstetrics
unit when it opens in late 2020. WMH was committed to ensuring that the
Women’s Care Center had the necessary support and resources to maintain
its exceptional services until closer to the projected move date.
However, staffing challenges have necessitated a revision to the timeline.
“We regret that this change is creating some anxiety among our loyal
patients who were counting on delivering their babies at Warren in the
coming months and years,” said Warren Memorial Hospital President
Floyd Heater. “Our unexpected shift in timing is due to the challenge
of recruiting and retaining the unit’s nursing staff, who are clearly
key to providing the high quality care our patients expect and deserve.
As current Women’s Care nurses consider their next steps in the
specialty they love, it appears we will be losing some of them earlier
than we anticipated.”
The physicians and advance practice clinicians at Valley Health Obstetrics
and Gynecology and Front Royal Family Practice will continue to provide
pre-natal, postpartum, gynecologic and other health services to women
of all ages in their offices in Front Royal, Woodstock and Luray. Valley
Health staff and physician practices will work with current patients to
help support decision making, with the hope that they will choose to transition
their birth care to Warren’s sister hospital, Winchester Medical Center.
“I want to reassure patients that the Women’s Care unit will
be well-staffed and ready for them until May 1, and possibly beyond,”
said Julian Martinez, MD, OB/GYN, Valley Health Obstetrics & Gynecology,
and chair of obstetrics at Warren Memorial Hospital. “Our physicians
in Front Royal, Woodstock and Luray look forward to caring for women before
and after they deliver, and will work closely with the obstetrics team
in Winchester to ensure a smooth transition. I encourage women who are
due in the coming months to talk with their provider about their personal
Pregnant patients received a mailing and phone call this week and open
houses have been scheduled to offer families a time to tour, meet the
WMC Labor & Delivery team, have their questions answered, and feel
confident in their birth plan.
“We welcome the opportunity to introduce our providers and staff,”
said Deena Lanham, Executive Director, Women and Children Services, Valley
Health. “Winchester Medical Center has a phenomenal team of physicians,
midwives, and nurses who embody Valley Health’s commitment to the
health and safety of moms and babies and providing a warm, personalized
environment where families can welcome their babies into the world.”