Emily Baucum, News On 6
PRYOR, Oklahoma -- Expectant mothers in Pryor are looking for new doctors after the County Medical Center shut down its obstetrics department.
The hospital says it was purely a financial decision. Thursday, doctors and nurses delivered the last baby ever to be born in the Mayes County OB unit.
Starting Friday, most pregnant patients will have to go somewhere else.
When Andy Mae was born a few years ago, Courtney Rehbein didn't have to go very far. It's just a ten-minute drive from her house to the Mayes County Medical Center.
"I had fabulous care. So much so that I wanted to go back again for the second time," Rehbein said.
She's four months pregnant -- and was shocked when her doctor told her the Mayes County OB unit was shutting down.
"I all of a sudden didn't have a doctor and I needed to find one within four weeks, before my next appointment," she said.
Hospital administrators say the decision was made with "a very heavy heart." They said in a statement:
"Many organizations are being forced to evaluate their obstetrics departments due to increasing costs, lower [Medicaid] reimbursements and the demands of maintaining an obstetrics program."
"I worry about the lower income families that this really does impact because you do have to drive further. I'm afraid they'll miss appointments and the proper care won't be given, just because it's less convenient," Rehbein said.
Rehbein found a new doctor 45 minutes away -- in Owasso.
"I went through Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and finally Plan D was the doctor I found that would take me," Rehbein said.
She's looking forward to meeting Andy Mae's little brother or sister. But Rehbein's disappointed she has to leave Mayes County for medical care.
"I had a wonderful experience at this hospital. It's small but I had amazing care," Rehbein said.
The Mayes County Medical Center says its emergency room will still treat pregnant women, including mothers who go into labor unexpectedly and cannot make it to another hospital.