CENTRALIA – As stewards of ministry, SSM Health is continually evaluating the best way to serve the needs of their patients while ensuring the long-term sustainability of quality health care in the communities they serve. After careful consideration SSM Health Illinois will be consolidating the labor and delivery service from SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – Centralia to SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital – Mt. Vernon, by the end of 2021.
“The decision to consolidate our inpatient labor and delivery department was not reached lightly”, said Damon Harbison, President, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital. Harbison said they have closely monitored the obstetrics service line for several years and the department has been experiencing underutilization for some time now that matched the national and regional trend of declining birth rates.
Harbison stated that “this decision is in no way a reflection upon the quality of care our OB/GYN physicians, pediatricians, nurses, or staff have provided to mothers and babies. We consider them among the ‘best of the best’ and know that this change will be difficult for our amazing staff.” While 18 employees at St. Mary’s Hospital will be affected, no jobs will be lost. St. Mary’s Hospital administration met with those employees and have offered them the opportunity to transfer to other positions within the SSM Health system. Though St. Mary’s Hospital realizes that complex decisions must occasionally be made in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of our ministry, we also grieve change. Harbison advises that “the change will ultimately improve our operations and allow us to focus our resources on the services that our patients are using the most in the communities we serve while keeping pace with the changes in the healthcare industry.”
SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – Centralia has seen a consistent decline in the number of births each year. The hospital anticipates less than 250 total births in 2021. Combining the two programs will increase volumes allowing staff to maintain clinical competencies and increase program efficiencies.
To ensure a smooth transition and continuity of care, SSM Health Illinois is partnering with Heartland Women’s Healthcare to assist with transitioning their patient’s labor and delivery care to SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital – Mt. Vernon or a hospital of their choice.
While this decision was not made lightly, consolidating the labor and delivery services will allow SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – Centralia to focus on providing other vital services in this community. By being good stewards of the resources that we have and specifically meeting the needs of our population SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital will continue to invest in surgical services, emergency services, primary care, outpatient services, geriatric focus care, and our behavioral health services.
Throughout this process, SSM Health’s goal is to ensure what is best for patients, employees, physicians, and the communities they serve.