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LRGH maternity services will be missed, mom says

Union Leader Correspondent

February 18. 2018 10:31PM

Skylor Miller of Laconia, cradles her son Kc, who was born January 20 at the Family Birthplace at Lakes Region General Hospital. The maternity ward will close on May 30. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

LACONIA — The announcement that LRGHealthcare will close its maternity ward this spring has some young mothers feeling left in the lurch.

Skylor Miller of Laconia has twice given birth at Lakes Regional General Hospital, most recently on Jan. 20.

“I think it is a terrible decision,” Miller said of the board of directors’ vote to close the hospital’s inpatient labor and delivery services effective May 30.

LRGHealthcare said last week it will continue to provide prenatal, postnatal, women’s health and pediatric care, and is working with Concord Hospital to maintain delivery services to the local community.

With a history of fast deliveries — her second child was born less than two hours after she left home for the hospital — Miller said, she doesn’t want to have to make the 41-minute, 28-mile trip to Concord Hospital.

“That’s not appealing to me whatsoever,” she said.

Miller recounted that her experiences at Laconia’s Family Birthplace have been wonderful and that she’s saddened to see it go. The nursing staff was attentive and supportive, as was her certified nurse midwife, Lucy Wilson.

She fears the scheduled closure will discourage young families from moving into the area, a sentiment shared by state Rep. Charlie St. Clair of Laconia.

“I don’t think the decision is going to help attract young families to the area,” St. Clair said.

The LRGHealthcare Board of Directors has voted to close the hospital's inpatient labor and delivery services effective May 30th, and is collaborating with Concord Hospital to ensure continuation of delivery services to the local community. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

LRGHealthcare has said it will continue to provide emergency delivery services through its emergency room, and has established plans for emergency deliveries to be managed with emergency room physicians and local obstetricians. 

The number of deliveries at Lakes Region General Hospital has declined annually over the past several years — as has the number of babies born in Belknap County.

In 2015, the state recorded 351 births in Belknap County, 325 in 2016 and 286 in 2017. 

Added to the pressures of the changing demographics are financial challenges. 

In 2015, LRGHealthcare reported $4.3 million in bad debt, coupled with an $11.6 million shortfall between the Medicare allowable cost of care it provided and what it received in revenue. 

The not-for-profit regional acute care 137-bed hospital had operating losses of more than $1 million in October and November and was expecting further losses.

The changes at the hospital, which included laying off 16 workers, are aimed at creating $7 million in annual savings.

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