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Dr. Martin Faber (center) reminisces about Perry Memorial’s Obstetrics Department, saying it was the best OB department in northern Illinois, following special recognition by director of acute care services Michele Rossman (left) and hospital chief executive officer Rex Conger. NewsTribune photo/Katlyn Rumbold
There were many smiles and tears following the closing of Perry Memorial’s Obstetrics Department. Pictured are the many nurses who were recognized at a special celebration, including Dr. Sripen Lavavej. NewsTribune photo/Katlyn Rumbold
PRINCETON — January 2014 goes down in history as the month when the doors to the women’s healthcare unit were closed at Perry Memorial Hospital, leaving the obstetrics department in a state of mixed emotions.
To mark the historic change on an upbeat note however, the hospital had a celebration to show and remember the “wonderful” things the women’s healthcare unit has provided over the past 50-plus years and to honor those who devoted their lives to delivering babies and helping along first-, second- and even third-time mothers.
“The records dating back to 1930 show there have been 41 physicians and two midwives that have provided OB services at Perry,” said hospital chief executive officer Rex Conger. “Our peak years were from 1978-1988 when we delivered an average of 324 babies each year. A top year was 1982 with 395 babies delivered. From 1989-1999 our average number of births per year was 216 and our average from 2000-2012 was 139 births.”
Director of acute care services Michele Rossman presented each staff member with a plaque for their years of dedication, as they will each be entering into a new chapter whether its retirement, or transitioning into a different department and/or hospital. There were a few tears shed as the nurses took a moment and reflected on their work at Perry Memorial Hospital. Rossman described the nurses as “the heart of the unit.”
And “the heart of the unit” they are. Dr. Martin Faber, who has been practicing at Perry since 1978 and welcomed four of his own children into the world in the OB department, said the nurses really made his wife feel at home during those years, and for that, he is very appreciative.
“It’s a very bittersweet day, but we’ll carry on,” he said.
Board members and administrators said the decision to close the women’s healthcare unit was not easy.
The input for the decision-making process took a long time to gather and all along everyone was hoping that there would be some kind of a change that could allow the service to continue.
The final blow to close the unit was the changes that came with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act combined with the Illinois Smart Act. The hospital recognized that it could no longer absorb the $500,000 losses that the obstetrics department was generating each year with the anticipated additional reduction of $1.1 million from Medicare and Medicaid that is expected to continue throughout the year.
Princeton area residents in need of OB services may go to St. Margaret’s Hospital in Spring Valley or Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru. But if an emergency delivery were to arise, the PMH emergency department will be prepared.
Despite these major losses, Conger is optimistic about additional services to serve the community.
The hospital continues to maintain current, state-of-the-art equipment in the radiology department, including mammography equipment that can assist in early detection of breast disease. Also, the hospital has contracted the same group of radiologists who provide services for Susan G. Gomen Breast Cancer in Peoria.
Katlyn Rumbold can be reached at (815) 879-5200 or email@example.com.
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