Birmingham, Alabama (WBRC) – Maternal health care is disappearing in rural parts of the country, including here in Alabama, making it harder to get the care needed to deliver a healthy baby.
According to the American Hospital Association, nearly half of rural hospitals across the country do not offer delivery services, leaving expectant mothers in the desert of obstetric care.
“There are no delivery services in 34 or 55 rural counties.”
Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, says there are several reasons for the lack of maternal health care, especially in rural areas.
“Physicians are difficult to recruit in rural areas, there are considerable financial challenges to providing them, and liability is certainly an issue. It’s no surprise that there are no delivery services,” Dr. Williamson explained.
Also, labor and delivery units are expensive to operate and maintain.
Rural communities are sparsely populated, resulting in fewer births and making the system unsustainable.
“The real challenge is uninsured mothers. It is not surprising that uninsured mothers tend to receive prenatal care less often or later. I think that would certainly lead to less desirable outcomes for both mother and baby,” said Dr. Williamson.
According to the American Hospital Association, approximately 12 million women between the ages of 15 and 54 live in rural areas, more than 2.2 million of them in the obstetrical desert.
That means traveling long distances for childbirth and antenatal care.
“How do uninsured, Medicaid-eligible, low-income women get health care? “They are able to receive quality care and birth with their child. ERs are not the first to want prenatal care,” said Dr. Williamson. rice field.
Expanding Medicaid is one possible solution, Dr. Williamson said, to not only improve outcomes for pregnant women in Alabama, but to improve the overall health of women ages 19 to 64. said.
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