SITKA, Alaska — Sitka Community Hospital ended its labor and delivery services three months ahead of schedule.

The hospital stopped delivering babies on Friday due to staffing issues, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reported .

The hospital in December planned to move labor and delivery services to Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium/Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital starting April 1.

The health consortium is about a 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) drive from the community hospital.

The move was made because the community hospital does not deliver enough babies to maintain a safe program, CEO Rob Allen said.

Industry standards call for a team of doctors to deliver 100 babies a year to ensure competency, but the community hospital sees around 30 to 40 each year, Allen said.

The early closure impacted five patients with babies due between Friday and March 31.

The community hospital will continue pre- and post-natal services.

“The only change that SCH patients will experience is delivery at SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe hospital,” Allen said. “SCH providers will be on rotation at SEARHC to help accommodate continuity of care.”

Dan Neumeister, executive vice president of the health consortium, said collaboration between the two institutions has been positive.

“We’re ready to continue to provide excellent care,” Neumeister said. “Any patient who needs delivery services, we’re ready … SCH has done an excellent job communicating to moms and letting them know it’s moving faster than they thought.”


Information from: Daily Sitka (Alaska) Sentinel, http://www.sitkasentinel.com/