Singing River Health System will stop offering labor and delivery and other obstetric services at its Gulfport hospital starting April 1, joining two other Mississippi hospitals that have recently done the same.
Singing River announced the cut to the Harrison County hospital Thursday, blaming staff shortages. Employees received a 30-day notice and have the option to transfer to other jobs within the hospital system.
“Like many health systems across the nation, we currently face a shortage of OB physicians,” the statement from the hospital said. “While the decision to suspend services was not something we wanted to do, we are hopeful it is only temporary and that we can reinstate services in the near future.”
Patients can still receive obstetric care – including labor and delivery – at Singing River hospitals in Pascagoula and Ocean Springs.
Ochsner Medical Center in Hancock County closed its labor and delivery unit in the summer of last year. In the Mississippi Delta, Greenwood Leflore Hospital announced it was eliminating its labor and delivery unit in the fall.
Singing River and Ochsner Health announced a partnership in 2020 to acquire the 130-bed Gulfport hospital from another owner.
The cut in OB service comes as hospitals across the state say they’re struggling to keep up with rising costs and scaling back on specialized services as a result.
“We will continue to search for long-term solutions to bring back OB services to Singing River Gulfport and our community,” the statement said.
Singing River isn’t facing an imminent financial crisis, but announced it was seeking a buyer in the fall. The hospital’s CEO, Tiffany Murdock, has said partnering with a larger system would help bring down costs because the system would be able to negotiate on a larger scale with insurers and suppliers.
Murdock told Mississippi Today in November the hospital system had 200 open staffing positions and was continuing to struggle with a nursing shortage.
Clarification 3/2/2023: The headline of this story has been updated to reflect that the hospital says it has suspended, not ended, obstetric and labor and delivery services, though it has no firm date of when the services will resume.