There’s a lot of buzz and misinformation in the local community about UTMB “closing down” to island-born babies. I bet a lot of you have heard about it. As the father of two Waverley Smith-born BOIs, it sparked my interest, so I asked around a little bit and have the following information to offer you:
This started with a letter sent to the patients of the seven faculty obstetricians at the Women’s HealthCare Group, the ones with an office in Bay Colony, near the HEB on I-45 across from Victory Lakes. Beginning Dec. 31, the letter announced that this group of physicians will start performing all of their low-risk deliveries at the Center for New Life at CHRISTUS St. John Hospital in Nassau Bay, near the Space Center.
This next part is important: the group, which will continue to provide prenatal care at the Primary Care Pavilion in Galveston and at the Women’s Health Center at Bay Colony, serves about 350 patients a year, and 250 of those live on the mainland. (Lord forbid the thought of me becoming a dad again, but if I did, I’d be one of those 250 families on the mainland, and I’d likely welcome this news. St. John’s would be a lot closer for me, has the capacity, nice facilities and has been a good partner with UTMB. This will likely make for a good experience for the majority of the group’s patients.)
Now, for the big picture: UTMB delivers about 7,500 babies a year in its labor and delivery units. We aren’t getting out of the “baby business” on the island.
We are very good at taking care of complex or high risk pregnancies, and from what I’ve heard, our ob/gyns and neonatal team can stand toe-to-toe with anyone in the country. If a newborn delivered at St. John needed to be cared for in a special facility with a neonatologist, both mother and baby would be transferred immediately to UTMB.
Even with our expertise with high-risk cases, if a low-risk patient wants to have her baby at UTMB, the university will gladly honor the request. While the physicians in the Women’s HealthCare Group will be delivering only at St. John’s, other highly qualified and skilled docs from UTMB’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology—the ones who deliver the other 7,000+ babies—will be on hand to serve the health needs of any woman who prefers to have her baby born on the island.
One side benefit: UTMB plans to update and expand its labor and delivery rooms and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and this shift will provide a little more space to do that.
Do I understand why some people might be upset? Sure. Having a kid is stressful enough without any changes or surprises. But for most of us, like me, who heard something long on emotion and short on details, I hope this information helps.