BWWMH board discusses future of labor and delivery

Published 2:49 pm Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital Board of Directors met Thursday morning, and discussed the future of labor and delivery at the hospital.

Hospital CEO Mike Marshall said the board is trying to find a way to keep the department open, but the hospital is losing $400,000 to $500,000 per year keeping it open.

“With everything else getting tight financially in hospitals, especially with the two percent Medicare cut due to the sequester, a decision has to be made,” Marshall said. “We’ve got two options: we can either try to find a way to keep it open, or we can go forward with a plan to phase it out.”

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Marshall added that no hospitals in Alabama make money on obstetrics, but in the larger markets, they have a chance to make the money back on a delivery more than in a rural hospital.

“About 70 percent of our deliveries are covered my Medicaid,” he said, “and our reimbursement on Medicaid in Alabama is the lowest in the nation.”

He added that delivering a baby from someone without Medicaid gives the hospital a chance to make up the money on the back end with future visits from that family, but Medicaid does not allow that.

“The community can help keep labor and delivery open by using our hospital,” Marshall said. “By going to Birmingham or Tuscaloosa, it costs the employer more for insurance, even though they use the same equipment we have here.”

The vote about the future of labor and delivery at BWWMH will be held in the April 25 board meeting.

Marshall said if the board does vote to phase it out, it would be a 60-90 day process to close the department.

During the meeting, the board voted to take back control of the hospital’s cancer care center beginning July 1. In 2005, the hospital turned over control of the center to Southeastern Cancer Network of Tuscaloosa.

The transition will turn the cancer center into more of an all-inclusive infusion center rather than just a chemo center.

The Southeastern employees at the center will become hospital employees as of July 1.

The board also voted to remove the hospitals 501-C3 designation due to mandates from the IRS to do community benefit assessments. The removal of the designation will not affect any of the employee’s retirements or anything else the hospital does. The board mainly wanted to be able to conduct the assessments on their own time rather than a specific timetable.