Boise-area hospital will close labor, delivery units. What it’s saying — and not saying

West Valley Medical Center says it will close its labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care units in less than two months.

The Caldwell hospital said the decision was made because of a decline in the number of births the hospital has handled over the last few years as well as “challenges in securing consistent coverage,” according to a statement from West Valley emailed to the Idaho Statesman on Thursday. It wasn’t immediately clear whether that meant staffing coverage.

The closures may cost an undisclosed number of staff members their jobs.

And it’s unclear where expectant mothers will go. The statement said staff and providers have already been informed, and that patients will learn of the news from their respective providers.

A labor and delivery suite at West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell.
A labor and delivery suite at West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell.

Options for Canyon County patients have expanded in the past decade as the county has grown. Saint Alphonsus Health System opened the Birkeland Maternity Center near Interstate 84 in Nampa in 2014 and a new, 100-bed hospital on the same campus in 2017. St. Luke’s Health System opened an 87-bed hospital in Nampa in 2017 that includes family suites for new mothers.

The closure of West Valley’s labor and delivery unit was alluded to in a report released Monday by the Idaho Physician Well-Being Action Collaborative that detailed how dozens of obstetricians have stopped practicing in the state in the last 15 months, as Idaho’s anti-abortion law threatens to punish physicians if they perform abortions, even when the mother’s health is at risk.

Two hospital obstetrics programs, at West Bonner General Health, a critical access hospital in Sandpoint, Idaho, and Valor Health, the only hospital in Emmett, have closed since the ban took effect. An additional hospital obstetrics program “is in serious jeopardy of closing,” the report said.

But West Valley would not say whether that contributed to the units’ closure. West Valley spokesperson Kaycee Emery declined to address that or answer any other follow-up questions.

The units will close April 1, the statement said.

The hospital said in the statement that while it’s closing its labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care units, it’s expanding and enhancing other services.

“We continually add to our broader care teams to meet the evolving needs of Caldwell and the surrounding communities, and as such our hope is to retain as many of our colleagues as possible by offering new opportunities in other care areas,” the statement said.

West Valley traces its roots to the opening of Caldwell Memorial Hospital in 1950. The for-profit hospital is owned by HCA Healthcare, formerly the Hospital Corporation of America, based in Nashville, Tennessee.

Crisis pregnancy centers’ funding is on the line. Idaho Republicans want to keep it going

All ‘orthopedic care’ under one roof. St. Luke’s unveils ‘transformative’ Boise facility

Health-care costs are high, yet a Boise-area group of clinics may die in 2 months. Why?

With Saltzer in peril, another chain of urgent care clinics expands in the Boise area