MONROEVILLE, Ala. (WKRG) — It’s a rural county with limited healthcare options. After Nov. 15, the nearest hospital for labor and delivery is 45 minutes away in Grove Hill.
“I am 28 weeks pregnant,” Alisha Bowen said. “I was planning to deliver here at Monroe County Hospital, and I found out a few weeks ago that will no longer be a possibility. I need to change providers, so I am currently in the process of trying to find a new doctor.”
Bowen is due on Dec. 28, but now she’s weighing her options and isn’t sure where she’ll give birth.
“I should be picking out cribs, not doctors,” she explained.
She’ll most likely give birth at University Hospital in Mobile, which is an hour and a half drive from her home in Monroeville.
“My initial reaction is I was devastated for myself,” Bowen said. “It changes my birth plan quite significantly.”
Monroe Co. Hospital announced last week plans to close the labor and delivery department due to physician shortages. Administrators tell WKRG News 5 it’s a problem hospitals are facing nationwide.
“We understand the profound impact this may have on expectant families in our community. Please know that we have explored every possible avenue to maintain this service,” a statement read in part.
Still, there’s hope help can be found to either stop the closure or bring the department back to the hospital in the near future.
“We are a small community,” Belinda Dorrance said. “You have to be willing to come to a small community to work.”
Dorrance was a registered nurse at the hospital for 40 years before she retired last December. She said the closure would affect a lot of families.
“The relationship between an expectant mom and her delivering physician is so special,” she said.
Hospital administrators are now referring expectant moms to other facilities in the state, as far away as Montgomery, which is a little more than an hour and a half away.
Monroeville Mayor Charles Andrews acknowledged the dilemma and said the city will work with the hospital to help in any way it can.