Adventist Health Tulare will close obstetrics department June 6

Editors note: This article was updated Tuesday 3/12/24 1:00pm

Adventist Health will temporarily stop providing obstetrics services in Tulare on June 6, though hospital representatives told the Valley Voice that emergency services, including emergency baby deliveries, would still be available.

Adventist Health hasn’t closed the door on babies permanently in Tulare: officials say they are currently working to recruit providers for an eventual reopening of obstetrics services.

A notice posted in the Adventist Health Tulare emergency room was shared on Saturday on the Visalia Stringer Facebook page. It states:

“Adventist Health Tulare will close its Obstetrics Department on June 6, 2024 at 0700, due to decreased births in the hospital. The affected department consist of fourteen (14) perinatal rooms and a nursery.   This action may affect twenty-three (23) employees.”

The notice came two days after Tulare Local Healthcare District CEO Randy Dodd sent the board a memo stating that “Adventist Health has announced today that Obstetrics (OB) services at AH Tulare will be temporarily paused for an unspecified duration.”

The district owns and leases the Adventist Health Tulare campus to Adventist Health, but doesn’t control the hospital’s operations.

Renee Garcia, a marketing manager for Adventist Health, told the Valley Voice that year over year the number of births at the hospital has declined 60% and was even worse in the last few months.

She said that the situation turned into a safety concern as the hospital was unable to maintain an adequate number of obstetrics staff.

“Unfortunately, the number of deliveries has substantially declined over the last two years, and the program is not sustainable. Patients can still receive family planning, women’s health, and pediatric care at Adventist Health Medical Office Tulare at 2059 N. Hillman St., Tulare, CA 93274,” a written statement by Garcia said.

The Chair of the Tulare Local HealthCare Board, Kevin Northcraft, said that the board pushed Adventist Health to open the maternity ward so the district’s 88,000 residents could give birth within the district, but neither the obstetricians nor patients came back. He said the losses weren’t sustainable so the board understood Adventist’s decision.

“Hopeful maternity will be back soon!” He said.

Garcia said that the hospital will still be able to effectively handle obstetrics patients and deliver babies on an emergency basis even after June 6. The six births that took place in the hospital in February started in the emergency room and moved to the birthing center, she said.

“Our Labor and Deliver department will remain open and staffed and will deliver babies up until June 6,” Garcia wrote in a statement to the Voice. “Our ER does not deliver babies. It’s a process to close such services. However after June 6, emergency care needs of maternal patients can be handled in our ER department and for delivery these patients will be transferred to the nearest labor and delivery department.”

“Adventist Health is committed to being in Tulare. Our company has invested over $5 million dollars in 2023 with the addition of a state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization lab, upgraded MRI and CT services, and stroke care of excellence,” Garcia added. “Note we are looking to add greatly needed services in place of this closure, later this year.”

Malynda Parsons, Sierra View’s Senior Marketing and Community Relations Specialist, said her medical staff has not received official notice about the Obstetrics Department at Adventist Tulare.

She added that the Porterville hospital is capable of handling any increase of maternity patients that might result from Tulare’s closure.

In terms of Sierra View’s obstetrics department, Parsons said the hospital is still “holding strong” and has approximately 1000 births per year.

They are in the process right now of updating their maternity webpage, she said, to better educate the community and moms about their services and the pregnancy process.

Garcia said that Adventist’s leadership team “will continue to provide unwavering support to our labor and delivery associates as they transition to our nearby hospitals. We look forward to them enhancing care at our hospitals throughout our network.”

Locally, Adventist Health has a large maternity wing at their Hanford hospital.

Garcia said that Adventist does plan on reopening the obstetrics department, saying leadership is enthusiastic about the possibility and in the process of recruiting local providers.

“A local OB provider is coming this summer to Adventist Health Medical Office in Tulare,” said Garcia. “We are super excited.”

One thought on “Adventist Health Tulare will close obstetrics department June 6

(Commenter ID is a unique per-article, per-person commenter identifier. If multiple names have the same Commenter ID, it is likely they are the same person. For more information, click here.)

Use your voice

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *