Number Of Obstetricians Declining

Marilyn Brooks
medical editor

The number of obstetricians in the area has dropped significantly in the last 15 years. The cost of malpractice insurance has forced them to leave or retire, but one community hospital has decided not to shrink but grow.

Ohio Valley General Hospital is 100 years old. Like all community hospitals, it has always cared for its own, but several things including malpractice insurance threatened that mission.

David has now decided not to run away but fight Goliath with a brand-new $30 million surgery and maternity center, and that’s good for women in Pittsburgh’s western suburbs.

Kelly Rittenaur will deliver her second child next month. She lives 40 minutes away from Pittsburgh in Beaver, but she said she wants her baby to be delivered in the city.

“My first experience here was just awesome with labor and delivery, so I wouldn’t have switched or thought about going anywhere else,” said Rittenaur.

Many women don’t have the choice and are forced to travel into Pittsburgh to have their babies, because so many obstetricians have left western Pennsylvania.

At a time when malpractice costs have forced many hospitals in this area to close or cut back their obstetrical care, Ohio Valley is going to go forward with theirs.

Could it be a sign that community hospitals are once again remembering their mission to take care of their own?

Rittenaur’s obstetrician is one of five in the area who, despite the insurance problem, are determined to stay and make a go of it.

“It’s a very real issue, and it does change sometimes how you do practice medicine,” said Dr. Zenaida Rosado. “Very cautious, more testing to make sure you’re not missing anything to ensure that someone has a healthy baby and mom is safe.”

Rosado is in solo practice. It helps that the hospital covers her malpractice insurance, but there is something else, too. A trust like the past when medicine was more art and skill than business.

“With this new unit, we’re going to move into the next phase of trying to fulfill that or keep up that idea of a community hospital that can provide that care,” said Dr. Patrick Christy.

Ohio Valley General Hospital has made a $30 million commitment, a promise to the community that their next 100 years will keep getting better for everyone who needs their services.
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