The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 30, 2013

Windber Medical Center ends obstetrics program

Randy Griffith

WINDBER — Leaders see this, the final day of Windber Medical Center’s obstetrics program, not as an ending, but as a continued journey.

“We don’t want to make it the end of an era,” President and CEO Barbara Cliff said.  “We want to make it a new beginning.”

The  hospital announced in January it was pulling the plug on its baby business after the unexpected news that two doctors were leaving the area and the remaining two obstetrician/gynecologists were changing concentration. Longtime Johns-town area baby doctors Amy Anderson and Pradeep Kulkarni are shifting to an expanded gynecology practice.

“It will transition and expand woman care services that we will be launching in the weeks to come,” Cliff said.

“We will be able to accommodate a lot more women with gynecological services by excluding obstetrics.”

The new program is still in a period of flux, Cliff said. A formal launching of the new woman-care services program is being planned for a later date, she said.

In the meantime, Somerset Hospital and Conemaugh Health System’s Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown have expanded their obstetrics capacity.

Somerset has recruited a third obstetrician/gynecologist, who will be starting soon.

Conemaugh Physician Group recruited a new physician and will soon be expanding hours at its obstetrics office in Conemaugh Richland, 1481 Eisenhower Blvd. Dr. Bora Oezgueler is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology.

He already is getting busy as former Windber patients sign up for maternity care through Conemaugh, said April Behory, director of woman/child services.

The full impact of the transition on Memorial’s inpatient business will be hitting over the next few weeks, but Behory said the hospital is ready.

“We are looking at approximately 200 more births a year,” she said. “We have added staff and done additional training.”

Overflow maternity patients will be admitted down the hall in the pediatrics area, she explained. Staff there is being trained to care for the new mothers as well as the babies.

New hires include several of those displaced by Windber’s obstetrics shutdown, and additional new jobs are still possible, Behory said.

In case the word didn’t reach everyone, a communications and transfer plan is in place connecting Memorial and Windber’s emergency department.

Competition between the three hospitals was set aside to be sure expectant mothers understand their options, Behory said.

“They have been great; very accommodating,” she said.

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