HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Officials from St. Mary’s Medical Center in southern West Virginia say they will discontinue childbirth services later this year.

According to Angie Swearingen, COO of St. Mary’s Medical Center, the decision was made as part of an effort from Mountain Health Network to realign their services to “best serve the needs of patients” and because of a national and regional decline in the number of childbirths.

Swearingen says the childbirth services are scheduled to discontinue on Nov. 18, 2022, and will be combined to Cabell Huntington Hospital.

“While childbirths have steadily decreased nationally over the past decade, the decline is even greater in our region due to a reduced number of women of childbearing age,” said Swearingen.

SMMC officials said the obstetrics unit will move to the medical/surgical department where they will provide a focus on women’s health.

“We value the outstanding service of our devoted SMMC obstetrics team members and are pleased to share they will have a choice of caring for patients at either Mountain Health Network hospital,” Swearingen said. “We also will be working with obstetricians and pediatricians in the area to assist expectant mothers with their childbirth plans. We honor the thousands of babies that have been born at SMMC and the fond memories they hold. We cherish being a part of those important moments and look forward to serving the new mothers, babies and families of our region.”

The medical center officials said they will work with staff, providers and leadership to make the transition as seamless as possible and to create effective utilization of hospital beds.