Closure of County’s Only Obstetric Services Raises Patient Care Concerns
Carmel, NY- Putnam Hospital recently announced the impending closure of labor and delivery services at the hospital, slated on March 1. Community members and the nurses who work in the obstetric (OB) unit —currently the only OB services in Putnam County—raised concerns in a town hall meeting last night about the impact of losing important access to care for pregnant mothers and newborn babies in Putnam County.
Labor and delivery nurse Eileen Rossi, RN, said: “Since we opened at our current location in 1999, we have taught our community about self-care, childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant care. We have worked in association with our Health Department to ensure the health and well-being of Putnam's newest families. And now, our beloved birth center is at risk. We need the community to become aware and involved. Nuvance Health management needs to recruit doctors to sustain this vital service to our community and to continue our Putnam legacy.”
Nuvance Health, which operates Putnam Hospital, has known for months that the doctors’ group providing OB services at Putnam Hospital planned to move their practice to Northern Westchester Hospital. However, Putnam has not yet made public their plan for replacing these services or whether they intend to suspend them permanently.
At the Save Putnam County’s Women and Children’s Services town hall meeting on Feb. 22, community members expressed concern about traveling long distances, especially in inclement winter weather, for OB services. A resident who had hoped to deliver her baby at Putnam Hospital described a friend’s long, harrowing drive during an ice storm to deliver her baby at another hospital.
When the OB services close at Putnam Hospital, families will need to travel 30 minutes or more for their OB care, which can put patients at risk when a medical emergency arises.
When NICU nurse Anna Cusola, RN, suggested that Putnam Hospital nurses should contact local politicians and legislators, Putnam County legislator Amy Sayegh noted she was in attendance at the meeting and promised to bring the matter to the attention of county legislators.
The Putnam nurses, members of the New York State Nurses Association, are demanding that Putnam Hospital reopen essential healthcare services for the women and children of Putnam County as soon as possible.
Lina Fuschetto, RN, concluded: “Putnam Hospital’s birthing center has been the cornerstone of life for Putnam County. Having to watch this service to our neighbors be suspended is a tremendous loss for us as nurses and for this community that has relied on us to provide OB care. As a nurse who worked at a larger institution before coming to the birthing center, I quickly came to realize how amazing the staff was and how our patients received such individualized and family-centered care. We treat our patients like they are our family members. And now our community will be forced to go to those larger institutions where they will no longer receive that specialized care that they receive here. We will do everything we can and keep spreading the word to save these services.”
The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 42,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. For more information, visit nysna.org.