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UnityPoint Health: Here’s what you need to know about our recent decision

On Monday, I announced one of the toughest decisions that I and the Marshalltown Board of Directors ever had to make – to close the obstetrics unit and Women’s Health Clinic at UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown as of Monday, Sept. 30.

I know this is disappointing for the community and our employees. When UnityPoint Health took over a hospital in bankruptcy a little more than two years ago, it was our hope that we could retain as many of the service lines as possible as we attempted to restructure and right-size the organization for long-term sustainability.

However, in the wake of the decision, there are two things the community must keep in mind. First, there simply aren’t enough women choosing to deliver locally. Over the last six years, there has been a 45 percent decrease in the number of births at the hospital. In fact, we had only 18 deliveries in March, which was the lowest figure in our history. It’s clear that patients have been selecting communities such as Des Moines and Ames for their care. Expecting women have chosen to seek their care elsewhere.

Second, we’ve struggled to recruit a second obstetrician over the past year. That has left us with just one obstetrician who is basically on-call all the time. Professionally, that’s not reasonable or sustainable from a work-life perspective.

This latest closure came as a surprise to the community, especially after two other closings last year involving the cath lab and the intensive care unit. But, what the community needs to know is this is the final closure of services for the foreseeable future. We worked with three separate and independent consultants to help us come to this decision, knowing it is our responsibility to right-size this organization for the long-term.

We’ve heard people in the community say this latest closure was for the sake of making a profit. Actually, UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown is a not-for-profit organization, but we do need to remain financially sustainable to reinvest in our employees, the latest technology and our facilities/properties.

Here are other things we’d like the community to know:

• We believe this is the last service line that we’ll be closing for the foreseeable future.

• In the event of an emergent delivery, our ER staff is trained and ready for all emergencies, and our EMS service can transport patients where they need to go.

• We believe the community still has local options for health care at UnityPoint Health in Marshalltown. Women’s, pediatric and infant care will still be offered within the UnityPoint Health clinics in Marshalltown, Tama/Toledo, State Center and Conrad and we’ll continue offering ER, Urgent Care, Primary Care and other Multi-Specialty clinics.

• We’re exploring some consolidation opportunities with our South Campus – located at the Medical Park south of Highway 30. However, we are in the beginning stages of this development.

Yes, this decision was a very difficult one, and it’s the result of multiple changes in health care everywhere, not just in Marshalltown. Announcements like this are happening throughout the nation, but we’re confident this will ensure that UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown is a valued part of the community for the long-term.