Ellis County moms lose Waxahachie hospital option

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by DEBBIE DENMON / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on March 30, 2010 at 6:09 PM

WAXAHACHIE — Time is slipping away for patients at Baylor University Medical Center at Waxahachie who want their babies delivered here.

The obstetrics ward will temporarily close to make room for a greater number of patients who need immediate medical care.

"It's a huge need," said Dr. Valerie Gorman,  who is Baylor's chief of staff for the Waxahachie facility.

Dr. Gorman said the hospital has had an unprecedented 45,000 annual visits to their emergency department for adult patients with serious medical needs while obstetrical services make up less than 13 percent of the patient population.

The labor and delivery floor will close at the end of June to accommodate the increase of general population patients.

"We're having to transfer them from the emergency room to Dallas and Fort Worth and to other places in the Metroplex because we just don't have the beds available," Dr. Gorman said.

Pregnant patient Jennifer Seymore learned Tuesday that she'll have to choose another hospital in another town to have her baby, and she's upset. The closet hospitals —  like Ennis Regional, Charlton Methodist in Duncanville and Methodist Mansfield — are up to 25 miles away.

"I just felt like being here next to the hospital was best thing for me," said Seymore, who is due in November. "If anything happened, I  was moments away, and now that's not the case."

Jennifer's OB/GYN, Dr. Jason Brown, has a medical office right next door to Baylor Waxahachie. He's been delivering his patients'  babies there for eight years, and says nearly 250 expecting mothers visit the ER per month.

The maternity ward will eventually return when a new hospital is built; until then, Dr. Brown is worried.

"The one thing I'm most concerned about is that some patients will actually deliver in their car or in a manner they weren't looking forward to," he said.

Baylor has already purchased land along Interstate 35 near Highway 287 for a new Baylor University Medical Center in Waxahachie, but the question is, when will it be built?

Baylor officials said they don't yet have a timeline for the project, but many doctors say it could take up to seven years.

In the meantime, expectant mothers in Waxahachie will have to make a "Plan B" for delivering their bundles of joy.

According to Baylor, statistics show that up to 74 percent of women in the Ellis County area have a preference other than Baylor Waxahachie for their maternity care.

E-mail ddenmon@wfaa.com

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