Due to a consistent 10-year decline in births on Cape Cod, the Falmouth Hospital maternity department, along with the pediatric unit, will be relocated to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis permanently, Michael K. Lauf, Cape Cod Healthcare’s president and chief executive officer, said in a call with media on Tuesday, March 31.
While obstetric and inpatient pediatric services will be suspended at Falmouth Hospital as of Monday, April 6, the move is pending regulatory review, Mr. Lauf said.
This change might lead to layoffs of medical staff at Falmouth Hospital, Mr. Lauf said, noting the consolidation of maternity and pediatric units at larger hospitals is a nationwide trend.
Last year only 328 babies were born at Falmouth Hospital, less than one per day. This represents a 39 percent decrease since 2009, which is consistent with regional and state trends, Mr. Lauf said.
Births at Cape Cod Hospital declined 11 percent to 752 at Cape Cod Hospital last year and across Barnstable County by 12 percent to 1,515. Total births in Massachusetts declined by 8 percent to 66,570 over the same period, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The average patient census in the maternity department is less than three per day, Mr. Lauf said.
Following similar trends, the pediatric unit at Falmouth Hospital has shown a seven-year decrease of 35 percent in average census to less than one patient per day, at 97 discharges annually.
“Cape Cod Hospital has the capacity to absorb these cases,” Mr. Lauf said.
In addition to the decreasing number of births, the organization decided to consolidate maternity and pediatric services after a shortage of pediatricians at Falmouth Hospital in July, Mr. Lauf said.
Also, the two units’ beds are expected to be needed as medical-surgical or intensive care unit beds in the case of a surge in adult COVID-19 patients at Falmouth Hospital.
“Next week we will transition the [maternity and pediatric] beds to medical-surgical beds equipped for COVID-19 patients,” Mr. Lauf said.
Falmouth Hospital opened a new floor Tuesday with 26 additional beds for COVID-19 patients. The hospital previously had 10 ICU beds, with the capacity for adding nine more, Mr. Lauf said.
Obstetrical, gynecological and pediatric practices on the Upper Cape will remain open for in-office visits and prenatal care.
“We simply will not be delivering babies in Falmouth Hospital,” Mr. Lauf said.