Simcoe hospital to reopen labour and delivery unit

The cries of newborn babies will again be heard at Norfolk General Hospital once the Simcoe hospital reopens its labour and delivery unit on Monday.

The unit was closed 14 months ago due to a nursing shortage, forcing expectant parents in Norfolk to head to the nearest out-of-county hospital.

At the time, the hospital estimated delivery services would resume in 12 to 18 months. That target was met thanks to what hospital spokesperson Aaron Gautreau described as “several months of aggressive recruitment efforts” to hire more nurses.

Norfolk General opened a clinic for expectant mothers in July and, as of Monday, the hospital will again offer round-the-clock birthing services.

“Access to safe, local obstetrical and newborn care is so important to the health of families and we are so excited to be able to offer that once again at Norfolk General,” said Dr. Jamie Szabo, chief of obstetrics, in a press release.

“Thank you to all of the nurses, physicians, midwives, surgeons and administration who believed in the importance of this department and worked tirelessly to get us to this point.”

Gautreau credited St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital for helping train the newly hired obstetrics nurses and the Brant Community Healthcare System for taking over obstetrical care for Norfolk residents during the closure.

The reopening of the delivery unit means two midwifery groups — Midwives of East Erie and Norfolk Roots — can return to the hospital to assist expectant mothers during labour.

The hospital reopened the unit in memory of the late Shannon Adams, a registered nurse at Norfolk General for nearly 20 years who died in January of a rare cancer called plasma cell leukemia.

“We are proud to dedicate this reopening to our friend Shannon Adams,” said Robin Varnes, director of obstetrics.

“Although Shannon is no longer here delivering babies, her spirit lives on, and her kindness and compassion will be a reflection of the care that we will provide our patients and their families every day.”

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator