Idaho Hospital suspends labor and delivery services, citing “political climate” and shortage of physicians

The hospital announced Friday that an Idaho hospital will be halting labor and delivery services, citing a shortage of doctors and the “political climate.”

“Talented, well-respected physicians are leaving. Recruiting replacements will be very difficult,” Bonner General Health, located in Sandpoint, said in a press release.

Pregnant women who used to have 25-bed Bonner General Hospital will now have to head to hospitals or birthing centers in Coeur d’Alene or Spokane to deliver.

In 2022, doctors delivered 265 babies at Bonner General and saw fewer than 10 pediatric patients, according to the hospital.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, the abortion ban has added another challenge to rural hospitals that have struggled to keep their doors open and their facilities fully staffed and running.

Nationwide, hospitals have sounded the alarm that states with strict abortion laws risk losing staff or doctors in other areas. According to the Associated Press, in Indiana, One of the first countries to restrict abortion In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision, the Indiana Hospital Association said the state was “creating an atmosphere perceived as hostile to physicians.”

Idaho has one The most restrictive ban on abortion in the country. According to the Associated Press, in a court memorandum filed in August 2022 in support of a Justice Department lawsuit against Idaho’s abortion ban, medical groups argued that Idaho doctors are forced to choose whether to opt out of state or federal law.

In a report last September, found pew Idaho was one of six states in which authorities could prosecute health care providers for performing abortions.

“The Idaho legislature continues to introduce and pass bills criminalizing physicians for receiving Medicare that is nationally recognized as standard of care. Consequences for Idaho physicians providing standard care could include civil litigation and criminal prosecution, leading to imprisonment or fines,” Bonner said. Gen. in his news release.

Requests for further comment from CBS News were not returned to the hospital on Saturday.

In addition to the legal and political climate in Idaho, Bonner General also cited the “emotional and difficult decision” to discontinue labor and delivery services due to staffing shortages and changing demographics.

Since 2005, at least 190 rural hospitals have closed or converted operations, according to the numbers Compiled by the Cecil G. Shipp Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina.

“We’ve done everything we can to avoid canceling these services,” Ford Elesesser, chairman of Bonner Public Health, said in a statement. “We hoped to be the exception, but our challenges are impossible to overcome now.”

Rural residents are often left to drive hundreds of miles to access health care. In 2019, Pew Research published a study It shows that rural Americans live on average 10.5 miles from the nearest hospital, compared to 5.6 miles for people in suburban areas, and 4.4 miles for those in urban areas.

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