RENSSELAER COUNTY RENEWS CALL FOR SAMARITAN MATERNITY WARD CLOSURE PLAN TO BE CANCELLED BY STATE FOLLOWING LATEST MEETING ON ISSUE
Rensselaer County officials, including County Executive Steve McLaughlin and Public Health Director Mary Fran Wachunas, are renewing their calls for the proposed closure of the Samaritan Hospital maternity ward to be cancelled following another meeting today with state officials on the issue.
The closure would leave Rensselaer County without a birthing center, and also create difficulties for communities in Albany and Saratoga counties, McLaughlin and Wachunas said again on Thursday following the meeting. Residents in the affected areas would face health, safety and quality of life issues because of the closure.
Despite several meetings, McLaughlin said there has been no rationale advanced to justify the closure. He and Wachunas said the state should reject the closure plan without further delay.
“This is a decision not based on health or care, but instead based solely on economics. That puts residents of our county and surrounding communities at risk,” said McLaughlin.
“The Samaritan closure plan should be rejected by the state without delay. After over one month, there has been nothing introduced, proposed or discussed to show this closure would do anything but hurt our residents,” added McLaughlin.
“You have residents in underserved communities who would be forced to travel double or even triple the distance for maternity services. To have a county the size of Rensselaer County and the surrounding communities left without maternity services seems hard to imagine and even harder to justify,” said Wachunas.
The meeting on Thursday was organized by Assemblyman John McDonald, with participation by state Health Commissioner James McDonald. The tele-meeting was the latest in a series of meetings and rallies on the issue.
McLaughlin was among the local officials signing on to a letter by Assemblyman McDonald to oppose the closure of the Samaritan maternity ward.
“The concerns we are presenting are being heard because so many others are also speaking out in opposition. We hope the state recognizes that opposition and formulates a plan to keep Samaritan’s maternity ward open,” added Wachunas.