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Mayo Clinic Health System Ends Labor and Delivery Services at New Prague Hospital

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Mayo Clinic Health System‘s New Prague hospital is ceasing its labor and delivery services, joining other Minnesota hospitals in this trend. The decision, explained in a recent public hearing, comes as a response to declining birth rates and staffing challenges.

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Mayo Clinic Health System Responds to Declining Birth Rates

James Hebl, a Mayo Clinic Health System official, noted a 20 percent drop in births since 2019 at New Prague, with many mothers opting to deliver elsewhere. This decline mirrors a statewide trend, with Minnesota’s birth rate plummeting by 21 percent since 2007.

With fewer than 100 births annually and only one obstetrician, the hospital faced difficulties in sustaining its services. Staffing shortages, exacerbated by a nationwide physician deficit, further strained operations. Additionally, intermittent diversions, during which in-patient services were halted due to staffing inadequacies, underscored the hospital’s challenges. Recognizing these obstacles, Mayo Clinic Health System concluded that the current model was unsustainable.

Despite the cessation of labor and delivery services, Mayo Clinic Health System will continue to offer prenatal, post-natal, and well-women outpatient services at the New Prague location. However, for labor and delivery needs, patients will have to travel approximately an hour to the Mankato hospital.

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Community Concerns Grow Over Mayo Clinic Health System’s Healthcare Shift

Although other non-Mayo hospitals closer to New Prague are options, some community members expressed concerns about the inconvenience and loss of a “one-stop shop” for childbirth care.For instance, Joey Offerdahl of New Prague praised the care received during his wife’s two childbirth experiences at the hospital, questioning the necessity of seeking care elsewhere without the option of Mayo Clinic Health System in New Prague as a comprehensive facility.

In essence, Mayo Clinic Health System’s decision reflects broader trends in healthcare delivery, driven by shifting demographics and workforce challenges. While the move aims to address operational difficulties, it raises concerns among community members about accessibility and continuity of care. The implications of this decision extend beyond New Prague, resonating with communities facing similar healthcare transitions across the state and beyond.

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