RENSSELAER COUNTY OFFICIALS REMAIN VERY CONCERNED FOLLOWING MEETING ON PLANNED CLOSURE OF COUNTY’S ONLY MATERNITY WARD AT SAMARITAN
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin and Public Health Director Mary Fran Wachunas said they have serious concerns following a meeting with officials from Samaritan Hospital regarding the planned closure of the maternity ward at the hospital.
McLaughlin said he is now calling for public meetings on the planned closure of the maternity ward. If approved by the state, the closure would leave Rensselaer County without a birthing center.
“We have serious concerns about the closure plan, and our questions and concerns were not satisfied or addressed during the meeting today. We remain firmly opposed to the planned closure of the Samaritan maternity ward,” said McLaughlin.
“I am asking for a public meeting to be organized so members of the public can be heard loud and clear by the state officials who will make the decision on whether the maternity ward remains open. We have received many, many comments, messages and letters on this issue and residents are very worried about the planned closure,” added McLaughlin.
The tele call was organized by Assemblyman John McDonald with numerous representatives from Trinity Health, the owner of St. Peter’s Health Partners and Samaritan Hospital, along with McLaughlin, Wachunas and state legislative representatives and local officials.
County officials including McLaughlin and Wachunas each have raised concerns about the lack of prior notice about the closure plan by Samaritan. Wachunas said she remains hopeful the proposal will be reconsidered.
“Samaritan did not appear to be open to keeping the maternity ward open. Closing the only birthing center in our county would create serious health, safety and quality of life issues for many living in our county and surrounding communities,” said Wachunas.
“There would be reduced access to care, specifically births, if the maternity ward closes. That issue has not been even remotely addressed to my satisfaction,” added Wachunas.
McLaughlin and Wachunas said they are hopeful the state or federal government can provide outside assistance to help keep the maternity ward open at Samaritan.
“We need to see the Governor and our Senators on this issue. Outside help may be needed to keep the maternity ward at Samaritan, the only one in our county, open. This is a vital service and one that needs to remain present in our county,” said McLaughlin.