HYANNIS, MA — Cape Cod Healthcare is cutting hours at its midwifery program in half.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association has decried the decision and said its coming at a time when the hospital is seeing an increase in the number of babies it’s delivering. Starting on Nov. 16, midwives will only be available at the hospital 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Monday through Friday, cutting their in-hospital weekday availability in half, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Nurses Association said. With the cuts, midwives, will only be available 24 hours a day on weekends.
Patch has reached out to Cape Cod Healthcare officials and will update this story when we hear back.
From April to September, the hospital has seen a 38.32 percent increase in baby deliveries compared to the same months in 2019.
“The absence of midwives during weekday shifts means that expectant mothers who have chosen to be under the care of a midwife will no longer have access to those same care providers during their labor and delivery — unless a soon-to-be mother is lucky enough to go into labor either at night or on a weekend,” a Massachusetts Nurses Association spokesperson said in a statement. “Otherwise, new babies will be delivered by obstetricians.”
The nurse’s association credits the influx of pregnant woman at Cape Cod Hospital to the closure of Falmouth Hospital’s maternity ward in April. The closure forced expectant mothers in the upper Cape to travel to Hyannis for maternity services.
Nurses and residents argued closing the facility reduces access for expectant mothers, putting them and their children in danger. But the Falmouth Hospital Association, a part of the Cape Cod Healthcare network, argued there will be no negative impact from closing the wards in a plan submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
“Services at Cape Cod Hospital meet or exceed those which are available at the (Falmouth) Hospital, both before the proposed closure and otherwise,” the plan read.
Nurses argued the new cuts at Cape Cod Hospital raise questions on if pregnant women on the Cape will get the appropriate level of care they need, especially since the region has seen its population increase during the coronavirus pandemic as people look to relocate from more densely populated cities and towns.
“When CCHC closed the maternity unit at Falmouth, we knew we would see a significant increase in deliveries in Hyannis,” nurse Michelle Walsh said “At the very least we have been expecting to deliver 300 more babies this year. Little did we know that CCHC would make things worse by cutting patients’ access to midwives at a time when the Cape’s lone maternity unit is already understaffed and overwhelmed.”
This article originally appeared on the Barnstable-Hyannis Patch