Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital, serving patients in Georgetown County since 1950, will soon be out of the newborn delivery service.
In a letter to employees April 23, Bruce Bailey, president and CEO of Tidelands Health announced the move that will be effective Sept. 30. Bailey said that all labor and delivery and nursery services will be “consolidated permanently” to Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital in Murrells Inlet.
“While I wouldn’t normally send an email after business hours, I believe it is important for you to hear this news directly from me,” Bailey said in the letter. “This decision, while difficult to make, is the right one for our patients, our community and our health systems.
As for the reason of the shift from Georgetown to Murrells Inlet, Bailey said the Georgetown location simply does not have the number of births to remain open.
“It is no longer sustainable to maintain two labor and delivery and nursery units in the same county,” Bailey said.
Due to changing demographics, the number of births in Georgetown County has decreased by 25 percent since 2008. As a result, Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital has the fewest births of any hospital in South Carolina – well less than one a day.
Labor and delivery and nursery services had been temporarily consolidated to Tidelands Waccamaw due to COVID-19. They have since resumed at Tidelands Georgetown and will continue through the Sept. 30 date.
“The lasting financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic also cannot be ignored. Going forward, we cannot do what we’ve always done and expect to survive. We must look for innovative ways to deliver the safe, quality health care our patients expect and deserve,” Bailey said.
Bailey said that moms-to-be will “continue to have a safe, quality and seamless maternity experience.” He said that the same physicians that they already are familiar with will continue to deliver at Tidelands Waccamaw, which is a Joint-Commission-certified childbirth center of excellence.
Tidelands Health Women’s Center located in Georgetown will remain open according to Bailey.
“The team at Tidelands Health Women’s Center will continue to offer quality, compassionate care, including pre- and post-natal care, for women and girls of all ages in their new offices on the third floor of Tidelands Georgetown and at Holmestown Road – just as they do today,” he said.
Bailey said the level of service that Tidelands Health currently provides in Georgetown will not change.
“We have earmarked $500,000 to address health disparities and social determinants of health that support healthy babies and moms across our service area,” he said.
Bailey said that his team will work with impacted employees at Tidelands Georgetown on a transition plan as they move toward the Sept. 30 date.
“I know this news may be hard to hear,” Bailey said in the letter. “This was a hard decision for our leadership team and board of trustees to make. But there is no question it is the right decision – for our health system and, more importantly, for our patients and the community we serve.”