Rival hospitals are putting aside their differences to help expectant mothers prepare for a local maternity program shutdown.
Windber Medical Center announced Tuesday it would discontinue its obstetrics program on March 31.
Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown and Somerset Hospital are working with Windber’s staff and patients to help with the transition. Windber has welcomed more than 200 babies every year since the program restarted in 2005.
“We have been going back and forth on the phone all week with Windber,” April Behory, director of woman-child service, said from Memorial.
“We are trying to make this a better transition for the patients and the staff.”
Clinic hours may be extended at Conemaugh Health System clinics at 1481 Eisenhower Blvd. in Richland Township and 1111 Franklin St. in Johnstown to accommodate patients whose babies are due after April 1, Women Services Chairman Dr. Adib Khouzami said.
Patients required to change doctors will want to be seen as soon as possible now, Khouzami said.
“That’s going to be a big load up front,” he said. “After that we should be OK.”
Meanwhile, Memorial’s staff is evaluating existing facilities to identify areas for overflow during obstetrics surges.
Beds just down the hall in the Women’s Services wing will accommodate new mothers, Behory said.
Memorial’s Regional Intensive Care Nursery has been the primary local site for high-risk patients, Khouzami said, noting there should be no change in volume there from Windber’s shutdown.
“They were seen here before, because we work very well with Windber at this time,” Khouzami said.
The additional volume will require additional staff, and Khouzami expects to hear from any displaced Windber workers.
“I hope we can get some experienced nurses,” Khouzami said.
“From that perspective, I think we will be OK.”
Coincidentally, Conemaugh Physician Group recently recruited a new physician for its Richland obstetrics office.
Dr. Bora Oezgueler is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. He was brought in to take on patients for longtime Johnstown baby doctor Richard McKinley, who is retiring.
McKinley scaled back his once-bustling workload in preparation for retirement, Khouzami noted. McKinley had not practiced obstetrics for two years and has been working a part-time schedule for gynecology patients.
“Dr. Oezgueler should be able to get some of the load,” Khouzami said.
A native of Germany, Oezgueler has been in the U.S. for several years, most recently with an OB-GYN practice in Chandler, Ariz.
He completed medical school at Ludwig Maximilians-University in Munich and completed family medicine residency training in Germany
“After medical school in Munich, I came to the United States for travel and loved it,” Oezgueler said. “I then decided to continue my career in the U.S.”
He completed obstetrics and gynecology residency training at the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Jamaica, N.Y., and at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.
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