Another Idaho hospital to stop delivering babies, cites ‘labor and delivery staffing’

Valor Health, the only hospital in Emmett, announced Wednesday that starting in a couple of months, it no longer will provide labor and delivery services to the city of nearly 8,000 people.

A news release from the hospital cited financial challenges and an ongoing staffing crisis as the reasons.

The hospital’s board of trustees voted to support the move at a meeting March 28, following recommendations from Valor Health CEO Brad Turpen. The hospital plans to provide care for existing patients through June 1.

“Valor Health is already facing an imminent labor and delivery service divert situation,” the news release said. “It has been increasingly difficult and unsustainably expensive to recruit and retain a full team of high-quality, broad-spectrum nurses to work in a rural setting where nurses need to be proficient in many different fields.”

Valor Health is on track to deliver fewer than 50 babies this year, below its historical average of 66 per year, according to the news release.

After June 1, the hospital said it plans to send its patients to health systems outside Gem County for labor and delivery services. The closest hospital to Valor Health is West Valley Regional Medical Center in Caldwell, about 28 miles away.

Earlier this month, the Idaho Capital Sun reported that Bonner General Health, the only hospital in Sandpoint — a city of more than 9,000 people in North Idaho — would stop providing obstetrical services, citing a loss of pediatricians, changing demographics and the state’s legal and political climate around health care.

“We have made every effort to avoid eliminating these services,” said Ford Elsaesser, Bonner General Health’s board president, in a news release. “We hoped to be the exception, but our challenges are impossible to overcome now.”

The Idaho Statesman reported Thursday that in an effort to address complaints about an exodus of Idaho physicians who fear felony charges for providing pregnancy care, lawmakers passed a bill that would add exceptions to the state’s abortion ban. However, pregnancies that cause health risks were not included among the exceptions.

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