BROKEN BOW—Since the first of the year seven babies have been welcomed to the world by the staff at Jennie M. Melham Memorial Medical Center (JMMMMC)! Labor and delivery services came back to Broken Bow on December 1, 2019 following a nearly two-year hiatus.
As part of a community tour on February 13, Nebraska’s Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley visited Melham Medical Center and received a tour of the labor and delivery rooms.
The suspension of the labor and delivery program was the result of a shortage in staff and physicians who could perform Cesarean sections (C-sections). Doctor David Minnick, Doctor Julie Lindstrom, and visiting doctors from other communities conducted procedures as needed and provided prenatal care, but the recent addition of Dr. Katie Thompson allows for a safer environment with fewer on-call hours for each doctor.
JMMMMC President/CEO Veronica Schmidt said recruiting a family practice physician with an obstetrics background is “bucking the trends of rural hospitals” as it is not something many critical access hospitals are out there trying to do.
“A town our size may not necessarily keep an OB full time—an obstetrician that does C-sections consistently. So you need a family practice doctor that can do C-sections and they are rare and becoming more and more rare. It’s stiff competition to get one recruited and get them here,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said family practice doctors who do OB are great for critical access hospitals but it is a challenge to keep those programs moving forward. She added that the hospital is looking for one more doctor to give current doctors more balance.
JMMMMC Patient Care Coordinator Wanda Anderson and OB Coordinator Kayla Kusek conducted the tour for Lt. Gov. Foley and the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce. The group discussed access of rural healthcare, the difficulty of maintaining labor and delivery services, expensive liability insurance for obstetricians, and Anderson discussed the benefits of recruiting and using more midwives in rural Nebraska.
The Melham labor and delivery unit was built in 2013 and consists of two spacious labor and delivery rooms, postpartum rooms, and a nursery away from other patients to provide low risk mother and newborn care.
Wanda Anderson, who has been a nurse for 40 years and has worked at JMMMMC for 32 years, said the updated training and reintroduction of labor and delivery services has allowed the staff to be “back in business serving the community as we should be.”
Melham Medical Center has 23 beds but 89% of their services are outpatient, according to Schmidt. She said bringing back labor and delivery is the “fun part of medicine.”
“We’re in the business of we see people sometimes on the worst day of their lives and so to be able to be there when it is one of their best days of their lives is exciting,” Schmidt said. “There’s just nothing like it,” Anderson added.