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      Keokuk hospital dumps women's health services

      Keokuk Area Hospital announced Friday that it will do away with its women's health services.

      The announcement came in a press release from Fitch Healthcare president Duane Fitch and Walt Stephens, chairman of the Keokuk Health System Board of Directors.

      The pair cited a decline in the use of services that include labor and delivery, postpartum and the Tri-State medical Group's Women's Health Center.

      â??All women delivering between now and April 15th will receive complete obstetrical services including nursing, pain management and physician care,â?? the press release says. â??During the next 30 days, staff at the Women's Health Center will be reaching out to patients to ensure a smooth transition of their care to other area providers.â??

      The hospital has been plagued with financial woes for a number of years. The latest cost-saving move follows a national trend of health organizations abandoning ob-gyn services.

      The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that many hospitals, doctors and medical groups are abandoning such services for fears of medical liability lawsuits.

      â??Survey results show that the near-universal fear of lawsuits coupled with the high cost of liability insurance not only negatively affects ob-gyns, but also harms patients and adversely impacts the entire health care system," according to a September 2012 survey conducted by the organization.

      Friday's announcement comes more than a month after the hospital laid off 24 of employees in an effort to cushion the blow of continued financial financial problems.

      The hospital in January entered into a two-year deal with Fitch Healthcare, a suburban Chicago firm that served as a KAH consultant for about three years. The deal led to the resignation of former CEO Wally Winker.

      Deficits plagued the hospital for years. Only recently have things started to improve. Although it's managed to cut some of its losses, the hospital still lost about $800,000 in the past fiscal year.