Eric Murray: Can babies be delivered in Grand County?
I get a lot of questions about the new medical facility being built in Granby. Many of them involve the financing, the progress of construction, anticipated grand opening date and the like, but one of the most popular questions is regarding the hopes for a particular service. Here is an example of the most-asked question regarding services: Hello, Eric. I was wondering if there is going to be a delivery service at the new medical center? It would really be nice to not have to go to Denver to have a baby. The short answer is that it’s possible if there is an emergency, but only in emergency situations. The new facility won’t be able to provide obstetrical services. Granby Medical can also deliver on an emergency basis only as well as the hospital in Kremmling. But as far as planned deliveries, expecting parents will still need to make arrangements elsewhere.For the health of the mom and of the baby, parents need to plan to be at a hospital that is well equipped and has well trained professionals to handle any situation for the delivery of their baby.The reasons for not being able to offer planned deliveries involve many variables, and unfortunately they just don’t add up to justify the service. Let’s take a quick look at why delivering babies is a service that won’t likely happen for many years, if ever, by local health care providers in Grand County.According to studies, Grand County has approximately 100 babies born per year within our 1,850 square miles of territory. Even if we offered it as a service, to-be moms and dads who reside here might still choose to have their babies at health care facilities in Steamboat Springs, Estes Park, Summit County or Denver.The number of potential monthly deliveries would fall considerably short of the cost to keep the clinicians trained and available around the clock, (because we all know babies decide to be born on their own time, often in the middle of the night and on weekends). Only 10 possible births in Grand County per month is just not enough to keep the highly specialized staff that would be needed to ensure the health of both baby and mother. Some estimates indicate the break-even point for a health care facility to provide the service is upwards of 100 per month, and many existing programs are heavily subsidized. Even then, many are closing due to every increasing liability, demands for expensive equipment and constant training and re-training.So what can expecting mothers in Grand County do? Several local physicians offer prenatal care, from the time a woman learns she is pregnant up to the birth. Pediatric care after the child is born is also readily available.Pre-natal care including regular check-ups and a plan is important. Several physicians offer these services, which include regular visits so the doctor can listen to the baby’s and the mother’s heartbeat, measurement of the growth of the belly, female checks, urine checks, regular monitoring of blood pressure and conversations with mothers about what to expect every step of the way.Several physicians in Grand County offer prenatal care, including Peak Pediatrics, Fraser Medical Clinic, Granby Medical, Timberline Family Practice and the clinic at the hospital in Kremmling.- Eric Murray, MBA, is public relations director for Middle Park Medical Center, Kremmling & Granby
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