Martin General Hospital to discontinue labor and delivery services

Published 6:39 pm Monday, September 9, 2019

From Martin General Hospital


WILLIAMSTON — Martin General Hospital and the Martin County Board of Commissioners have discussed the discontinuation of inpatient and outpatient labor and delivery services effective 7 a.m., Oct. 21, to better meet the community’s long-term needs.

Martin County owns the hospital building and grounds. When the hospital was sold in 1998, the new owner entered into a 30-year lease agreement with the county. County Commissioners will consider an amendment to the lease agreement at their next public meeting on September 11, which will allow for this adjustment in service.

The hospital will continue outpatient and inpatient gynecological services and women’s health services. This includes mammography services and breast biopsies at the hospital. Roanoke Women’s Health Clinic will also continue to provide gynecological and women’s health services.

“Martin General Hospital continually reviews service line utilization and volume trends to ensure we’re meeting community needs while providing safe, high-quality care for patients,” said Joan White-Wagoner, CEO. “Over the last several years, we have closely monitored our obstetrics service line and determined that the declining demand is not optimal to maintain a high-functioning unit. The golden number for maintaining optimal performance in an OB unit is 300 deliveries per year.”

This is a trend happening across the country. According to federal data, fewer babies were born in the U.S. in 2018 than in any other year since 1986.

“Health care is changing, and hospitals — particularly those in rural areas — face many challenges. Martin General Hospital has been a good partner, and we want to proactively work together to make sure our hospital is well-poised to serve our community now and in the future,” said Martin County Manager David Bone.

“These decisions are not made lightly, and we understand the emotional impact this has on our community,” explained White-Wagoner. “We are forever grateful for the employees of OB services for their compassionate care for women and their families. We expect to offer a number of the OB employees continued employment in other hospital departments.”

Expectant families can continue to utilize several options for obstetrics services. Within 35 miles, we are fortunate to have three birthing centers: Vidant Beaufort in Washington, Vidant Edgecombe in Tarboro and Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

Looking ahead, White-Wagoner explained the hospital’s continued focus on “the services most needed in the community such as behavioral health and expanded cardiology services that better reflect our aging population’s health care needs. We look forward to serving the Martin County region in the future.”

Martin General Hospital is equipped to respond to patients experiencing a medical emergency — obstetrics­related or otherwise. The experienced clinical team, including all board-certified physicians, is trained to provide emergency medical care. The hospital has begun notifying patients and will provide assistance in the transfer of their care. Patients with questions about their upcoming delivery can contact their primary OB/GYN provider.