Obstetrics unit closing at South Side hospital

The Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center board of directors has voted to close the unit, citing lack of demand and “high fixed costs.”

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Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center, 7531 S Stony Island Ave.,

Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center, 7531 S Stony Island Ave., plans to close its obstetrics unit in August 2019.

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It’s not uncommon for a woman in labor to arrive at Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center, having seen a doctor only once or twice since learning she was pregnant.

“They can’t afford it, and they just don’t know they truly need prenatal care,” said Yulonda Clark, a resident nurse in the South Side hospital’s obstetrics unit.

But in August, some of the city’s poorest residents will have one fewer option.

“Although we do not want to take services away from the community and we have resisted this move for a few years, it is our responsibility to protect the viability of the hospital and preserve the 800 jobs in the community,” CEO Dr. William Dorsey said in a written statement.

The South Shore hospital’s board of directors voted “unanimously” to close the unit, Dorsey said. The unit quit accepting new patients April 11.

Upset nurses, doctors and other hospital staff are planning a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Friday at The Quarry, 2423 E. 75th St., to discuss the closure. Clark, a union rep for the nurses at the hospital, said they have reached out to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office to see if he can stop the closure.

Clark agreed that hospital patient numbers are low, but she said the obstetrics unit isn’t being marketed adequately to the community. In 2012, the hospital opened a new labor and delivery area as well as a remodeled in-patient unit, according to the hospital’s website.

Clark said the closure will be devastating.

“For the most part, [the patients] can’t go anywhere else because they don’t have the means and transportation to do that,” she said. “We have patients who come to us on public transportation, we have patients who come as walk-ins.”

Dorsey said staff in the unit have been offered positions elsewhere in the hospital, 7531 S Stony Island Ave.

“The hospital said they are going to relocate us within the hospital, but I’ve been a labor and delivery nurse for over 20 years. So that’s all I know — is labor and delivery,” Clark said. “I can’t see myself retraining.”

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