220 Jewett Blvd, PO Box 218, White Salmon, WA 98672 | 509.493.2112
In this week's edition of The Enterprise, we're carrying a story that was published in the April 17 edition of the Hood River News about a Snowden family who raced to Providence Memorial Hospital in Hood River the morning of April 14 to have a baby that was arriving much sooner than expected.
According to the story (see page XX), the family ran stop signs, sped, drove the wrong way down Dock Grade Road (to be fair, it used to be a two-way road not that long ago), and blew through the tollbooth on the Hood River Bridge in a desperate attempt to get to Providence, because "there's no longer a maternity ward at Skyline (Hospital) in White Salmon."
Ultimately, the child was born happy and healthy on the shoulder of State Street in Hood River. However, Skyline Hospital CEO Robb Kimmes says the family didn't have to go to such great lengths and fears families on the Washington side of the Gorge are unaware that Skyline still has the capability to deliver babies even without a birthing center.
"Any emergency department can deliver a baby," he explained. "It happens at hospitals all the time that don't have obstetrics."
Although it is true that Skyline no longer has a 24/7 birthing center, Kimmes noted that pregnant mothers and their families can still come to Skyline for deliveries "in an emergency." He added that while they may not necessarily be experts in obstetrics, pretty much every medical professional is versed in the fundamentals of the field.
"Any RN (registered nurse), any medical student will learn how to deliver babies," Kimmes explained. "It's a basic qualification."
Skyline administration announced in July of last year that it would be shuttering its birthing center just a year and a half after opening the new and improved facility to the public in February 2011. Kimmes said with a nearly 45-percent drop in births at Skyline over the year leading up to the birthing center's closure, keeping the facility open wasn't economically feasible.
As of now, the birthing center is being used for pre-operation and post-operation services, but Kimmes said he and other Skyline administrators are currently in the process of deciding how soon, if ever, the hospital can expect to have expectant mothers back in its delivery rooms.
"It's something I've been really digging into since I got here [in January]," he said. "We're hoping to make a decision soon."