What Northeastern’s Roux Institute is doing to halt the closing of maternity care units at rural hospitals

By Cynthia McCormick Hibbert

Almost one-third of hospitals in rural Maine have closed their obstetric units in the past 15 years, meaning that expectant mothers face longer drives for maternity care and increased health risks due to lack of access to obstetricians and delivery room nurses.

Now a team of researchers from Northeastern’s Roux Institute in Portland, Maine, is reporting on a way to grow flowers in the state’s maternity desert by keeping the obstetric programs that remain open and thriving.

The solutions laid out in the workforce needs assessment, which is already receiving praise from health care practitioners across the state, could serve as a template for other states facing a crisis in maternal health care, according to experts.

“If a rural hospital closes or they close their obstetrics services, that leaves a really big gap in the community,” says Louisa H. Smith, one of the authors of the assessment, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at Northeastern’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences.

And while Maine’s maternity clients are declining in number, they are also getting sicker, says lead author Katherine Simmonds, a Northeastern clinical professor in the School of Nursing.

Continue reading at Northeastern Global News.