LEWISTON, ME – (May 11, 2022) – St. Mary’s Health System officials announced today that due to continuously declining birth rates, the Maternity and Women’s Health service line at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center (St. Mary’s) will be closing at the end of July. It was recommended and approved by the boards of St. Mary’s Health System and parent company, Covenant Health. State officials with the Department of Health and Human Service have been notified of this decision.
Despite a brief uptick in 2014, birth rates nationwide have been in decline since 2008. Androscoggin County and the surrounding areas have also been in decline and experienced even greater changes in newborn discharges than in most other areas of the state. Both St. Mary’s and Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC) have seen a steady decline in birth rates at their hospitals since 2017 and had a combined total of only 1,044 births in 2021. That compares with years past when each hospital regularly had over 1,000 births per year.
“The decision to close our maternity services was difficult and emotional, but is in the best interest of our community,” said St. Mary’s President, Steve Jorgensen. “Our staff in the Women’s Health Center are dedicated and caring professionals that will continue to provide exemplary medical services in our communities if they so choose. We are committed to retain and retrain any staff who wish to remain at St. Mary’s after the Women’s Center closes and CMMC will hire any staff that wants to stay with the women’s health program.”
Mr. Jorgensen went on to say, “With the availability of a Level 2 neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) and LifeFlight services in our community at CMMC, we felt that our communities will be well-served to care for all patients, including in the case of high-risk pregnancies. We will work together with our parent organization, Covenant Health, CMMC or any other health care provider of choice, to ensure a smooth and orderly transition for our patients.”
St. Mary’s will be coordinating transfer of patients and records over the next few months as the transition moves forward. “Patients will be contacted, and we will work closely with them to make the process easy,” Jorgensen said.