For some readers, last week’s editorial cartoon about Milford Hospital missed the mark in trying to graphically demonstrate the news that the hospital is closing its obstetrical services and will no longer be delivering babies.
The Milford Mirror apologizes to readers who took offense at the cartoon, which was intended to demonstrate the loss of a longtime Milford service, not to criticize the hospital for succumbing to financial realities when deciding to end the service.
Milford Hospital recently announced plans to shut down its obstetrics department, citing a declining birth rate at the hospital along with economic and regulatory challenges as the cause.
The hospital announced that “after more than 90 years of compassionate childbirth care at Milford Hospital, the Board of Directors has voted unanimously to make the difficult choice to end obstetrical services.”
In a statement, the hospital acknowledged that its staff and the community have strong emotional ties to the Milford Hospital Family Childbirth Center.
“Several generations of families, including my own, have had their babies born here,” said Milford Hospital President and CEO Joseph Pelaccia. “While this is a difficult decision we remain proud of the excellent patient care and service our OB Department nurses and staff have provided to thousands of families for the past 90 years.”
Milford Hospital officials said they recruited four highly credentialed obstetricians and invested significant resources in bolstering OB services in 2012. The effort was unable to address the trend of declining birth rates, low utilization and changes in payer mix.
The expense associated with maintaining the service resulted in losses of approximately $2.4 million annually.
Maternity cases at Milford Hospital have declined by 75% from 2010 to 2014. Faced with similar projections for 2015, hospital officials determined that all available resources must be directed toward the future viability of the hospital.
Milford Hospital is indeed an integral part of the community, and many residents have fond memories of the caring nurses and the attentive doctors who tended them as they delivered their children there. Many remember the special “A Star Is Born” T-shirts that hospital staff bestowed upon the new arrivals, and the special meal that staff prepared for new parents on their last day in the maternity ward, as they prepared to take their newborns home.
Cartoons can be open to interpretation, and sometimes they miss their mark with an audience. But words, direct words, are less open to interpretation. And those words are: Milford Hospital will be remembered fondly by many parents for the service they received in the hospital’s maternity ward. While we are sad to see the obstetrics services ending, we are happy that for 90 years, Milford Hospital helped us bring our children into the world.