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Labor and delivery will be missed

The decision to close the labor and delivery department at Bryan W. Whitfield is a sad one.

I’m not in the business of running hospitals, so I’ll leave that decision to those who are and the board to whom they report.

What I can offer is a perspective of someone whose family has benefited from the services offered there.

On June 8, 2010, Dr. Ronnie Chu delivered my second child at the Demopolis hospital. From a working father’s perspective, I cannot imagine a much more convenient experience.

Up to and after that date we received top-notch care less than half a mile from our home and work. Hospital CEO Mike Marshall and Director of Public Relations, Chrissy Brooker were among our first visitors. You don’t see that many places.

With a then five-year-old daughter in tow we were able to endure the experience of welcoming a little one without major disruption to her routine.

That I could easily shuffle her back and forth from the hospital, allowing her to sleep in her own bed while being only a few seconds from her mother and new little sister, took a great deal of stress off my family.

By comparison, my oldest daughter was born in a hospital more than an hour from where we lived. The hospital that served the community we called home at that time didn’t offer labor and delivery services. My wife, Tiffany, would routinely travel an hour-plus for regular appointments and, eventually, delivery.

I recall her final regular appointment. The doctor admitted her, unexpectedly, into the hospital. We didn’t bring anything with us as we weren’t prepared for an extended stay. Once Tiffany was admitted, I drove back home to pick up clothes, the car seat and all the other items we needed for a two or three day stay in the hospital.

I didn’t realize until June of last year just what an inconvenience that was.

When Dr. Chu admitted Tiffany last year, we stopped to eat lunch. We drove home, packed a bag and I installed a car seat. We accomplished all this in less time than it would have taken to drive to the next closest hospital.

I realize many people in Demopolis have and will continue to routinely travel to larger cities to seek medical services.

I think that’s an unfortunate case of “the grass is always greener.”

The quality of services you can get locally is just as good – and in many cases, better – than what you can find north, south, east or west of here.

The old saying goes that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Unfortunately, in the coming weeks and months, many expectant mothers will see this first hand. This was – and still is – a service this area sorely needs.

Jason Cannon is the publisher of The Demopolis Times.