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Picton hospital maternity ward closing announced last week

By Taylor Broderick

Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital will deliver its last baby when the maternity ward is expected to close at the end of August.

Quinte Health Care, which manages Prince Edward County Memorial, announced in January that possible cuts offset a $10-million deficit with no specific plan.

Quinte Health Care announced this last week the maternity ward in the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital will be closing, as part of the cost reductions.

Now, expecting parents in the Prince Edward County region will travel to Belleville to deliver, starting August 29th in order to centralize maternity services, according to a press release from Quinte Health Care Corporation.

Other than Belleville General, Prince Edward County Memorial is the only Quinte Health Care hospital that offers maternity services.

When it was first announced that cuts would be made, the hospital corporation worked with Prince Edward County physicians and nurses to see if there was a way to keep the maternity service in Picton. The group had not been able to find a cost-neutral way to have the service stay in Picton.

The service would have continued if it could be ensured that enough nurses and doctors were available. In the past four months, there have been three cases of women in labour being sent directly to Belleville General because Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital was understaffed.

The number of births being delivered at Prince Edward County Hospital has been steadily declining. There are now less than 35 births in Picton each year, according to a Quinte Healthcare Corporation news release.

The low number of births in Picton makes it difficult to provide 24 hour care with nurses who can maintain their skills and training. Giving all nurses the necessary training to deliver a baby was an option for Quinte Health Care, but with the decrease in deliveries in Picton area, the nurses would not be able to uphold their skills.

Quinte Health Care has also stated that nine beds will be added to the loss of the Prince Edward County Hospital.

Patriots of our County Hospital, otherwise known as a group called POOCH, are sick of all the service cuts being made and are demanding that local hospitals separate from Quinte Health Care. Provincial Health Minister Deb Matthews stated Tuesday that Prince Edward County Hospital would not be separating from Quinte Health Care.