Adventist Health Tulare to temporarily pause obstetrics services, according to internal memo

Since this article was published, Adventist Health announced that services will temporarily cease on June 6. Additionally, this article was updated to clarify that births at the hospital that started in the ER were subsequently moved to the hospital’s birthing center.

Expecting mothers in Tulare should plan to give birth in Visalia or Porterville — at least temporarily — as Adventist Health Tulare prepares to pause its obstetrics services.

The pause would be for an “unspecified duration,” according to a statement sent to Tulare Local Healthcare District board members by district CEO Randy Dodd. The district owns and leases the Adventist Health Tulare facilities to Adventist Health, but doesn’t control the hospital’s operations.

According to the internal statement, few mothers took advantage of the hospital’s birthing services, leading to financial losses: only six babies were delivered in February, starting in the hospital’s emergency department and moved over to the hospital’s birthing center.

“Adventist Health has announced today that Obstetrics (OB) services at AH Tulare will be temporarily paused for an unspecified duration,” Dodd’s Thursday statement said. “In recent years, Adventist Health has been subsidizing OB services at AH Tulare by approximately $6 million annually. During the month of February, for example, only six babies were delivered, primarily through the Emergency Department. This practice is deemed unsafe and financially unsustainable.”

While the memo states that births in Tulare were primarily delivered through the hospital’s emergency department, a subsequent statement by Adventist Health officials stated that the births started in the emergency department and were moved to the hospital’s birthing center.

Dodd told the Valley Voice that while he had not received any official notice in writing, he wanted to provide the board with as much advance notice as possible after he was informed of the pause by Adventist Health officials on Wednesday night.

Hospitals have closed maternity wards across the state in recent years, according to a November 2023 CalMatters report that found “at least 46 California hospitals have shut down or indefinitely suspended labor and delivery since 2012.”

District board member Jevon Price told the Voice that when he was campaigning door-to-door two years ago, several of the constituents he met expressed concern over a lack of obstetric services at the hospital, and wondered if the department was still open at all.

“People would tell me ‘I was born at the Tulare Hospital, and my children were born there, but now they can’t have their babies there,’” he said.

Price wonders where the babies Tulare are having are being born: he says that according to his own research, a city of Tulare’s population and demographic should be having an average of four babies a day.

“I think since the hospital re-opened almost six years ago they haven’t been able to recover and reach a normal number of births,” Price said.

They are likely being born at Kaweah Health in Visalia and at other area hospitals — according to Dodd’s memo, providers in Tulare are choosing to send patients to other hospitals.

“Jason Wells, President of Adventist Health Central California, has engaged in multiple discussions with Altura CEO Graciela Soto, but was unsuccessful in securing support from her Obstetricians. The absence of providers utilizing Adventist Health Tulare is the primary concern, and the pause in OB services will be contingent on Adventist Health’s ability to recruit new providers to the market,” his memo said.

The Adventist Health Tulare website still promotes the hospital’s birthing center, touting “12 private, spacious rooms,” supportive services, on-on-site C-section facilities, and an on-call OB-GYN available 24/7.

The hospital also celebrated its first baby of the new year on January 8 on social media, showing a happy family in the hospital’s facilities.

In the memo, Dodd maintained that Adventist was still committed to Tulare, and would introduce other new services.

“Adventist Health’s messaging will highlight the introduction of other services to the market, including the Cardiac Cath Lab and a renewed focus on Gastroenterology services,” the memo reads.

“Adventist Health reaffirms its commitment to Tulare, emphasizing that this decision is a strategic business move aimed at reducing ongoing operating losses until a sustainable program can be established. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns you may have.”

27 thoughts on “Adventist Health Tulare to temporarily pause obstetrics services, according to internal memo

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  1. I assumed that where you have your baby normally depends on which hospital the doctor you are seeing for your pregnancy is affiliated with. Apparently, many more doctors in the Visalia/Tulare area are largely affiliated with Kaweah Delta and not Adventist. Why is this happening? Are doctors able to be affiliated with more than one hospital in our surrounding areas? And if so, what prevents them from doing so? The physician’s personal choice or hospital rules.

      • Disclosure- I work at Kaweah Health.

        To answer your question, physicians are free to choose the hospitals they apply for privileges at. They can apply at as many hospitals as they want.

        As far as why physicians might be more likely to deliver at Kaweah, it might be because Kaweah has a neonatal intensive care unit and they have Valley Children’s Hospital physicians on-site 24/7. Kaweah has contracted with VCH since 2016 for this service. Also, Kaweah delivers nearly 400 babies per month, so the staff is very experienced and skilled. But at the end of the day, where you deliver is ultimately up to the patient and their physician.

        • Thank you. You clearly stated why Kaweah sets such a high bar. Tulare Adventist most definitely has its work cut out for them if they decide to compete as a birthing center. I am afraid that Adventist won’t be able to meet the challenge. Especially if Altura is determined to withhold support from them. Two prominent competing medical providers in the same town perhaps makes for a bridge too wide to cross where money, power, and prestige are at stake.

        • Tulare AH has many skilled and experienced nurses who actually left Kaweah to work here in Tulare. Probably about 6-7 nurses. Tulare is not succeeding primarily and only because they were not able to recruit any OB providers. It has been a mismanagement since AH took over with not being able to recruit their own OB providers. Clearly we as nurses know there are not enough OB providers to cover the amount of babies being born. Not having a NICU doesn’t necessarily play a role in that factor. If providers came then NICU would be offered. Tulare used to be a Level II. Kaweah doesn’t set a higher bar. Providers like the convenience of having back up providers and not having to take call so much due to the higher amount of provider support.

          However, the only way Tulare can survive is by them recruiting AH OB providers. Ones who will only take call at Tulare and only bring their patients here not give them options to go elsewhere.

  2. I would imagine that Adventist Health would be offering family medicine & obstetrics services at their clinics in Tulare area, and their newly purchased VMC. Are these doctors also not delivering in Tulare? So, Adventist Health clinicians are pushing their patients to community owned and run hospitals?

  3. I guess Adventist Health new slogan should be “Profits Over People” or “Profits Before Women.”

  4. This is interesting considering an abortion clinic plans to open in what has been said, a hospital controlled office building. Seems the Valley Voice should be reporting on this story but I haven’t seen anything yet.

    • If you are alluding to the Planned Parenthood Clinic that would like to open an office in Tulare and if you actually did your homework, you already know that NO ABORTIONS WILL BE PERFORMED AT THE CLINIC just like there are no abortions provided at the Visalia Planned Parenthood site as well. Your motive for saying otherwise is quite apparent.

  5. FHCN is a widely known clinic that also sees patients in tulare. So you’re saying those OB drs weren’t sending their patients to the hospital in tulare? I don’t believe that Altura has any part in the reason behind why the Tulare hospital is pausing OB services. Kaweah has many services that Tulare didn’t provide. NICU for one and access to VCH providers. They also don’t have a Lactation Consultant and Kaweah does. Sierra View is Baby Friendly and Tulare isn’t. There were many factors in play.

    • Lack of money due to the lack of births at Adventist Tulare Birthing Center is the stated cause for Adventist closing the Birthing Benter, but the big question is WHY is that happening? If FHCN or Altura OB doctors or any of other of the city’s doctors are not actively utilizing Tulare’s Birthing Center, the question of WHY needs to be asked and answered. Or maybe could it be that there are too many who do not have a primary physician let alone an OB doctor during pregnancy due to no insurance coverage or living circumstances that have to depend on the ER as the only option for them? Or maybe the drop in births it is that more and more people are choosing not to have a child for many private and personal reasons, as is their right to do so.

      • FHCN does not have enough providers to cover the patients they have let alone take call at multiple facilities. This community needs more OB providers plain and simple.

  6. Also, this is a HUGE misinformation regarding where those patients delivered.

    Those 6 patients who delivered at Tulare during February delivered in our OB unit. They did NOT deliver in the emergency department. They were cared for by OB physicians and OB nurses.

    • Hi there – the information in this article was pulled from a memo written by the district’s CEO (from the quote above)

      In a follow-up article Catherine just wrote, an Adventist rep clarified that the births started in the ER and moved to the birthing center.

      We’re adding a clarification in this article based on that and linking to the new article as well.

      • They did not start in the ER either.. again misinformation. I am an employee. All OB patients have to walk through the ER doors to be registered to come to our triage department on OB. None of them started in the ER.

        • Apparently the misinformation started with the Adventist Representative. Thank you for your clarification, which you might want to share with the representative. No one knows the day-to-day workings of a hospital better than the working staff on the floors and we are very grateful for the work that all of you do. A hospital’s richness truly begins with each and every staff member working there. No staff, no hospital.

  7. I have done my homework, abortions will be performed, although supposedly only “chemical” abortions . The owner who is affiliated with Planned Parenthood operates several abortion clinics in California . Irving M Feldkamp IV .

    Here is a message I received… can find where this might be untrue, with every indication it is fact.

    Dear Friends: I am asking for help/prayers. Some of the doctors at Tulare Medical Clinic have asked Right to Life for a continuing sign holding & prayer presence. The FPA lawyer sent a letter that they are still planning on opening an office in Tulare. Doctors are working with legal counsel to see if they can stop them from chemical abortions. The FPA- Feldcamp family corporation have operated abortion clinics all over Calif since 1969!! I have ordered a few Tulare specific signs and will be standing out front on Cherry Avenue with signs every Tuesday this month from 12:30-1:15 to educate Tulare people who do not know about this issue and to pray that God will somehow stop this. The doctors feel that public pressure is having an effect and will perhaps discourage them to not locate here. Please pray and join me on Tuesdays if you can. 🙏🏻-Linda Smith. You can pass this along to those you think might be interested. Thank you ❤️

    • There are no abortions being done at Planned Parenthood in Visalia nor will Planned Parenthood be providing abortions in Tulare. You continuing to say it doesn’t make it so. Birth control is not chemical abortion any more than a male ejaculating his sperm into a condom or anywhere else outside of a woman’s uterus is considered chemical abortion.

      Your agenda is to promote “forced” Authoritarian Christian control over a woman’s body regardless of a God given right of freewill to make their own medical decisions. Medical decisions are private and are between a patient and their doctor not a group of evangelical extremists.

  8. One more thing, what motive , that you claim is so apparent could I possible have ? You’re mistaken.

  9. Correction, the clinic is a for profit Family Planning Association , the owners have what you could call a chain of abortion clinics in California. It has been reported and published that there’s every indication that chemical or medicated abortions will be offered at the planned site in Tulare , along with birth control , STD testing and other services. I don’t never sex education lessons from , I don’t have any kind of agenda that would try and force anything on anyone. As I said ,I am surprised that Valley Voice hasn’t reported anything on it as other media in the area has. Instead of calling yourself “Wondering,” perhaps you should go with “ Assuming.” What I am “wondering,” is why you don’t use your real name?

    • Well kelly or kelky whatever handle you go by, Family Planning Association isn’t really a concern of yours since you obviously won’t be seeking services there. After all you too have the right to manage your own healthcare. I just “wonder” why you would “assume” that you have the right to try and control the healthcare decisions of others regardless of what medical facility they “choose”. Because that is exactly you and others like you are trying to do….. assert Christian control over women’s bodies regardless if they want it or not. So kelly or kelky, when are you and your fellow zealots going after the Viagra or stop the selling of condoms?

  10. I’m truly sorry (not surprised ) that you are so sure that i’m a “zealot” with lots of other zealot friends who are trying to control what women can or can’t do with their bodies , medical or otherwise , but can’t recognize a typo. Im not repeating what you’ve chosen to ignore , I will say that Id rather the town I live in not cater to a abortion chain owner and give him another place to kill babies and get richer doing it. Not having an abortion clinic in Tulare isn’t going to force anyone to have a baby they don’t want, I’ve yet to hear anyone say “ if only Tulare had an abortion clinic , i wouldn’t have had to go through with my pregnancy.” I’m starting to feel like you might be a Karen.

    • Well you are correct that I am a white woman and you are correct that I am angry at those who lie and manipulate others and that is what you anti-abortionists do, the means justifies the end result. I will say it loud and clear, I would rather live in a town that doesn’t cater to a group of religious zealots who demand the right to control what type of medical services are offered in Tulare for others. Your repetitive talking points are so transparent. Your agenda is quite clear. I do find it amusing that the names Kelly and Karen both start with the letter “K” and have the same number of letters. Coincidence? Hmmmmmm lol

  11. What are you smoking? I never said anything about whether you’re white or green, I never claimed you were angry, but thats become apparent and you’ve admitted it which means nothing just like my name starting with a K and having five letters doesn’t, your really reaching there. I haven’t said one thing about religion or God but you keep harping on and on about it. If you notice im using my full legal name on this post because I don’t care who sees what I have to say, I don’t have to hide behind a made up alias.

    • Educate yourself. YOU used the term Karen. Look up the definition of someone being called a “Karen”:

      “Karen is a term used as slang typically for a middle-class white American woman who is perceived as entitled or excessively demanding beyond the scope of what is considered to be normal behavior and decorum.”

      If you say that had no idea of the meaning of calling someone a “Karen” then you might want to consider another word to express your contempt or disapproval.

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