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Adventist Health St. Helena Announces Closure of Its Family Birth Unit

News, Women's Health

Due to declining volume in births in the Upper Napa Valley, Adventist Health St. Helena announced today it plans to close its Family Birth Unit on January 11, 2020.

Adventist Health St. Helena’s Family Birth Unit has a long history of providing an exceptional patient experience for expectant mothers and fathers. It has served many families by delivering thousands of babies since opening its doors years ago. However, in recent years there has been a steady decline in births. The lower volume levels are far below the requirements needed to sustain the unit.

“This decision was not taken lightly. This service has a long history of helping families in our community. The staff has put their heart and soul into providing an exceptional experience for mothers to have safe deliveries of their babies. However, the fact is Upper Napa Valley residents just aren’t having as many babies. So, we need to adapt the services we provide to those services the community needs,” commented Steven Herber, MD, president of Adventist Health St. Helena.

When asked what the hospital intends to do with the space after the closure, Dr. Herber explained, “This will provide an opportunity for us to utilize that space to expand other services, such as heart and vascular and telemetry, and it may allow us to designate beds for treatment of stroke patients.”

Although the Family Birth Unit will close, affiliated providers including Drs. Candace Westgate and John Kirk,
midwife Sue Turner and nurse practitioner Sharon Phillips will continue to see patients in clinics in St. Helena, Hidden Valley Lake and Napa. Dr. Lovera Miller will continue to see patients in Napa. Midwife Kristine Twite Lehnen will continue to see patients in St. Helena.

Our team of providers will work with expectant mothers to identify a facility to deliver their baby that best meets their needs. The closest hospitals with labor and delivery services include Adventist Health Clear Lake, Queen of the Valley Medical Center, Sutter Santa Rosa and Santa Rosa Memorial.

Ten full-time and seven part-time employees – mostly in nursing – will be affected. “We are eager to work with each staff member to place them in other positions within the hospital or in other Adventist Health facilities. We would love to retain the staff at this campus if possible,” commented Herber.

The hospital is planning to hold an event in early January for employees, physicians, donors and community members to commemorate the exceptional care provided to thousands of moms and babies.