One of the challenges faced by hospitals that still operate maternity wards is the unpredictability of the service line.
More than one hospital official I interviewed for my “Labor Pains” series
, which begins in this week’s print edition of the Philadelphia Business Journal, made the point that you can’t staff and operate an obstetrical unit like other departments in a hospital where surgeries — such as a knee replacement or a gastric bypass — are scheduled in advance.
Pregnant women can and do give birth at any hour of the day and any day of the week. (I always thought it was ironic my wife went into labor while watching the television show “ER”.)
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that maternity units operate at no greater than 75 percent capacity to maintain top efficiency.
As the “Labor Pains” series points out, two of Philadelphia’s six acute-care hospital maternity wards — Einstein Medical Center and Pennsylvania Hospital — average rates well above that mark. In fact, both average just under 100 percent capacity.
Statistics compiled by the Philadelphia-based Maternity Care Coalition show that in the wake of 21 area maternity wards closing over the past 15 years, three suburban Philadelphia hospitals — St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pa., Holy Redeemer Hospital in Abington, Pa., and Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill, Pa., — also average above that 75 percent mark....