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Valley Health rep addresses absence of maternity ward in hospital plan

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Two views of the existing WMH, which has served the Warren County community for 65 years since the early 1950’s. Photo/Roger Bianchini

FRONT ROYAL – As referenced in our story on the first Warren County Board of Supervisors meeting of 2018, the plan for a new Warren Memorial Hospital to be constructed off Leach Run Parkway between the new Warren County Middle School and John Marshall Highway does not contain a maternity ward.  See story here.  It is a fact raising alarm bells with some county residents.

Following the county supervisors January 3 meeting, at which a request for a Letter of Support for Valley Health’s Certificate of Need for a new facility, the Royal Examiner spoke to Valley Health representative Terry Mayes about the decision to build a new hospital in Warren County designed to serve the community’s needs, one might guess for at least a half century or more – the existing Warren Memorial Hospital is 65 years old according to the county report on plans for a replacement facility.

Mayes said the decision was based on existing birth numbers at WMH over the past five years. Annual births have averaged 333 over that five-year period, less than one a day. Mayes said the last time she checked the suggested annual average to justify maintaining a hospital maternity ward was 500 births.

“The planning team and Valley Health Board took this decision very seriously, it was not taken lightly,” Mayes says. She said the low volume of births at WMH has created recruiting difficulties for medical personnel with a focus on maternity.

In second row, Valley Health’s Terry Mayes listens to county supervisors’ discussion of the new WMH plan.

Of a concern the absence of a maternity ward at a new WMH would result in births occurring in the hospital’s emergency room, Mayes said Valley Health planned additional training and staff in the new facility’s ER to address that likelihood. She added that coordination would occur with Winchester Medical Center’s maternity staff and local emergency services to accommodate future births originating in Warren County, planned for transport to WMC about 25 miles away. The new hospital is slated to open in 2020.

Mayes also observed that prenatal care provided in Warren County by Valley Health’s Obstetrics and Gynecology departments and Front Royal Family Practice would be utilized to identify any potential complications that might suggest early transport for a pregnant mother to the Winchester facility. – “We will be proactive if a need is identified, pre-birth evaluations, planning transport ahead” all will be applied to Warren County’s maternity needs, Mayes said.

Of the likelihood planned future growth – there are residential development plans for as many as 1138 new homes on about 750 acres on the town’s east side by Front Royal Limited Partnership alone – will result in an increased county birth rate, Mayes said the new WMH campus will have space to expand services if necessary. However, in the agenda packet summary of the new hospital plan it is noted that Valley Health believes
much of future Warren County residential development will target “senior adults” with “a nominal increase in women of childbearing age”.
While there is not space in the new hospital design to add a maternity ward, a wellness center also planned for the hospital campus could be physically expanded if necessary, Mayes said.

The project summary presented to the county board of supervisors on January 3 states that “the new hospital campus will occupy approximately 28 acres of the 150-acre parcel” Valley Health acquired for the project in 2008.

What IS planned for the new hospital are:
· 36 private inpatient rooms;
· 18 Emergency Department rooms, with space for four additional rooms;
· Three operating rooms;
· Two endoscopy/procedure rooms;
· A cardiac catheterization lab;
· And green space and walking trails to encourage staff, patients and visitors to down-time, healthful, outdoor activity.
AND that wellness center that could be, or has adjacent land upon which a maternity ward could be added, if and when necessary.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Prudence Mathews

    April 9, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    These days most Doctors work for Valley Health. Why have they chosen not to hire OB/GYN Physicians in Front Royal? They do more than deliver babies. Mothers and babies die in childbirth. I feel this is a dangerous decision. Our community is growing. New businesses, new homes, new people, new schools….by the way, why do we need more schools if we don’t have the population to use them. Sounds like someone has the Cart before the Horse.

  2. Phil Rockstroh

    January 7, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    They need to also resolve their service with Cigna so we don’t have to go to Northern Virginia for medical care. That is ridiculous!

    • Prudence Mathews

      April 9, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      totally agree. Is Warren County really the only County that Cigna refused?

  3. Rachel

    January 5, 2018 at 10:36 pm

    Not sure where the average of 333 births came from when recent statistics show that there have been 350-400 deliveries the past few years, which would take it to an average of 360+ births. Though that still may not average out to the “500 needed births,” it is still a much higher average than stated. The “needed birth average” is confusing in general since there are many hospitals south of us that only reach about 250 births and are operating just fine. We should stop feeding our community lies just to make ourselves look good…

  4. Deborah

    January 5, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    First we lose Kim Shirley, now we lose the maternity ward.

  5. Tracy Lovett

    January 5, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    This county is growing I can’t believe we are going to waste money building a new hospital and not have a birthing unit…stupid…taxes going to go up but will have to go to Winchester again for a service

  6. Tired of the complaining.

    January 5, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    Everyone wants to go complain but no one wants to attend the meetings and voice their opinion??

    I agree, not having a maternity ward is wrong there….at least have a small one if were that close to the “rates”. But none at all is beyond me.
    However, geriatrics have 2 different rehabilitation centers in town and dominion health and fitness has a great indoor pool with classes for that specific age range…isnt that what you want? Or is that too far also?

    36 rooms is ridiculous. How many people are in front royal???? Crazy beyond me.

    Don’t worry,I haven’t been to the meetings and only expressing my opinion just like everyone else but good god,if your that mad and disgruntled go to the meetings!!!

  7. Krista

    January 5, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    This community is booming and frankly the decision to build a hospital that does not have a maternity ward is a dangerous idea. I delivered 5 out 7 of my children at WMH just for the superb nursing staff alone. I would rather deliver in Fairfax than at WMC. Front Royal is growing exponentially and while the rest of the outlying communities average 2 children per household……. Front Royal family averages are higher. Just look at the grocery store as parents tote their children along behind them to shop. I can often count 4-6 children per family.

  8. Sarah Mason

    January 5, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    We all go elsewhere for hospital births because Warren Memorial had horror stories and was outdated. A new hospital brings with it new hires and new equipment. I think many would come back to Warren if the new hospital had a maternity ward. I know I certainly didn’t go all the way to Warrenton in active labor 3 times just for kicks! I would have been happy to go to Warren Memorial, except for all the stories of bad staff and outdated practices/equipment, issues I expected the new hospital to resolve.

  9. Missy Taylor

    January 5, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    So basically were getting a new hospital that offers less???? Their saying there is not enough births but at the same time there saying there adding 1138 new homes JUST THIS YEAR. Awesome on the trails etc but lets look at the needs for the community (we already have walking trails). Right now people have to travel to Winchester for some medical things because WMH doesn’t offer them, the new hospital will only have 36 private rooms???? Wish I had a $1 for every time I have been in the ER and heard them say there transporting people to Winchester because all the beds are full in WMH or seen patients sitting in the hallways because all the beds are full in both places. I agree with the gentleman that made the statement just another way of Valley Health making money for emergency transport and our town and county council is going to let them!!! Cant wait till the needs of the community are based off people research and questions compared to a spreadsheet!

  10. Dianne

    January 5, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    This is sad to hear. There may be 333 births on average at Warren Co Hospital but did they take into consideration the number of women who have to travel to Warrenton or Winchester or even Fairfax and Haymarket to receive quality prenatal care and deliver their children there? For such a growing area building new bridges, new homes and new elementary schools you’d think they would at least build a quality maternity wing at this new hospital to serve their own county residents. Really sad. The powers that be seriously need to reconsider this decision before it is too late. Come on Warren Co. wake up!!

  11. Ashley Mulcahy

    January 5, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    I am highly upset that they are doing away with labor and delivery at warren memorial hospital! With other surrounding counties not having it and now warren not having it and everyone having to go to Winchester is a bad idea. That is going to cause more births in peoples cars and in the er! I think they need to hold a meeting where the public can vote on this! Keep women’s care in warren memorial hospital!!!!!

  12. Susan

    January 5, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Do these decision makers really know this community? Or do they just look at spreadsheets? I’m pretty sure women in my church alone birth more children than WMH did. Why aren’t these business men and women asking themselves what it would take to make their hospital competitive and meet the needs of local families so we aren’t traveling to far away OB units. This is lazy research at best, and completely irresponsible at worst. Do you have any idea how many home births are happening in this community? What a lost opportunity for WMH! What a shame!

    • CP

      January 5, 2018 at 1:30 pm

      Being “pretty sure” that your church has enough births to sustain the maternity ward is quite the weak argument for a multi million dollar decision. Maybe you should leave those decisions to qualified individuals instead of assumptions made by church observations.

      • Susan

        January 6, 2018 at 12:23 pm

        There is no doubt that this community is growing and I do, in fact receive birth announcements nearly every day. These women are generally not choosing to birth at WMH. I do believe the “qualified individuals” have missed an opportunity to make a profitable maternity ward because they do not understand why mothers are compelled to deliver elsewhere. I do not believe they know their potential market. Yes, I am questioning their expertise and their depth of research.

    • Sherry

      January 5, 2018 at 4:09 pm

      I would like to add that many of the alumnae of Christendom college have chosen to move to Warren County to start their families and are choosing to have large families. Large families=many children=many births.

  13. Debbie Grove

    January 5, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Why so few private rooms?

  14. Linda

    January 5, 2018 at 11:07 am

    I would like to see a fitness center like Winchester Medical Center has. There are seniors that are in need of a center that has a pool for fitness and therapy. It is difficult for older people to get to Winchester for things like that.

  15. bob

    January 5, 2018 at 10:39 am

    so no maternity ward so you can charge extra for transports to winchester med center and charge extra for training for er doctors?

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