In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Regional Medical Center of San Jose is shutting down its maternity ward in just two months, leaving mothers-to-be scrambling to find a new place to deliver.
Last year 794 babies were born at the center, which issued a statement that said the hospital had plans to shut down the ward before the coronavirus crisis.
Dr. Kenneth Phan, the OB GYN chairman at the hospital, has worked there for 18 years. He said that closing the maternity ward will put lives at risk.
“We have patients from the east side, mostly poor and minority patients,” said Phan. “And to deny them services is crazy.”
Phan is especially concerned about shutting the ward down during the coronavirus pandemic.
“They could not have chosen a worse time,” Phan said.
In the statement issued by the hospital, the closure was explained.
“We have a small OB program at Regional Hospital, but have determined that our current volume of patients can be easily handled by Good Samaritan Hospital, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and other community hospitals,” the statement read in part.
Representatives of the hospital also said it will continue to provide any emergency services OB patients need.
But Phan said the ER is not equipped to handle many OB GYN emergencies.
“They’re going to have the bare basics and they are not even going to have a monitor to listen to a baby’s heartbeat,” he said.
He is also concerned that mothers in labor may struggle to get to Good Samaritan Hospital, a drive which could take 45 minutes or more in traffic.
“Now, the nearest hospital is a lot further away and you don’t know what will happen when you’re in labor,” Phan said. “These moms may have to deliver on the freeway.”
Cristina Urbina delivered her son at Regional, which is just a few minutes from her home.
“This is very heartbreaking,” she said. “I know certain moms are really concerned about this.”
Regional Medical Center officials said paitents will still be able to stay with their own doctors and work together to find a new hospital to deliver.
The California Nurses Association said closing the ward will put mothers and babies at risk, especially during the pandemic.