Horizon Hospital birth

Monica Templeton holds her newborn son, Leo, at UPMC Horizon's Farrell hospital's birth center on Friday. Horizon said it's capable of handling moms-to-be from Lawrence County when Jameson Hospital closes its New Castle birth center.

Shenango Valley’s two hospitals could be seeing a batch of additional births after Jameson Hospital System in New Castle closes its birthing center Sept. 1. 

The move is part of the nonprofit health-care provider’s belt-tightening while it seeks a buyer. It already has an offer from  UPMC.

Although the state attorney general’s office last week told Jameson to seek additional buyout proposals, the hospital still plans to close its birthing unit. And that means patients in Lawrence County will have to seek other accommodations. 

As a result, UPMC Horizon’s Farrell hospital and Sharon Regional Health System could be getting many of Lawrence County’s pregnant moms.  

That doesn’t guarantee the two local hospitals will be getting a tidal wave of new tots. Several years ago Jameson recorded around 500 births, but that total has dropped to the 300 range in the last two years.

Still, with the overwhelming majority of moms-to-be seeking a hospital delivery, Horizon and Sharon Regional will likely see a bump in their deliveries. 

Horizon’s Farrell hospital saw a surge in deliveries just under a decade ago when UPMC closed Greenville hospital’s delivery unit. The Farrell hospital over that period saw its annual deliveries skyrocket from several hundred to more than 1,000.

With 16 beds dedicated to mother-baby care and gynecology, Horizon’s Farrell hospital can handle additional patients, said Marianna Stoneburner, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services at UPMC. Plus, the hospital has two additional beds to handle “Level 2’’ baby care – for babies needing a longer stay.

“Our recent expansions, coupled with on-site ob-gyn physicians who are available around-the-clock and expertise provided by our neonatal nurse practitioners, means we are ready to care for the more vulnerable mothers and babies who come our way,’’ Stoneburner said. “In the last year we’ve grown from 700 deliveries to 1,000, and we are prepared and ready for continued growth.’’

Likewise, Sharon Regional stands at the ready to care for these patients, said marketing director Michelle Schmader. The Sharon hospital handles 300 births annually.

“We have been in touch with Jameson medical center, and we will work closely with their staff to safely and smoothly transition care to a physician of the patient’s choice’’ Schmader said. “We have full service obstetric and gynecologic physicians who are accepting new patients.’’ 

She added Sharon Regional is recruiting a new physician to add to its family-care resources.

(Michael Roknick writes for The (Sharon) Herald.)

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