Rusk Co. hospital closes birthing center, forcing expecting families to find new options

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LADYSMITH, Wis. (WEAU) - Families planning on having babies delivered in Rusk County are now forced to go somewhere else.

Rusk County Memorial Hospital is set to close its birthing center in Mar. and now expecting families must find another option.

18 families who planned on having babies at rusk county memorial hospital, and many more in the future, won't have that chance after its birthing center closes in march.

“They'll no longer be able to deliver their babies here; however, we will still have prenatal, post natal and pediatric care available in the community,” Kelly Schotzko,
marketing and communications manager with the Rusk County Memorial Hospital said.

Schotzko said a diminishing number of doctors to deliver babies and an upcoming retirement forced them to make the change.

“Rural hospitals all over are facing physician shortages. However, we're very optimistic.”

“Sometimes it's difficult to get physicians in to the area, sometimes it does affect the care our residents recieve. I've heard a lot of stories about it being difficult to get appointments and things like that. So we're sorry to see it go, Celina Cooper, health officer and public health supervisor with Rusk Co. Public Health said.

Schotzko said there won't be any layoffs, and E.R. doctors and staff will be trained for emergency deliveries.

Rusk County public health staff said they're concerned about the change, with the closest hospital nearly 40 miles away in Rice Lake.

“It's hard for some of our lower income families to make it into Ladysmith to make their appointments when they live in rural areas of the county,” WIC director Kayla Olmstead said.
“I'm a little bit nervous that some of the appointments might get missed all together. And so that would decrease their prenatal care, which would always be a concern.”

“We're a high poverty area and those are issues that we're really hoping to tackle and as we can improve the quality of life in the county, I hope we can entice more health professionals to join us here,” Cooper said.

WEAU talked to an expecting mom in Ladysmith Thursday, who called it a terrible inconvenience to have to go somewhere else and said it could prevent people from coming back if it reopens.
Fifty-eight babies were born there in 2013.

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