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Second Idaho hospital stops labor and delivery services, citing "staff shortages"

A second Idaho hospital announced it would stop delivering babies on June 1. The move comes two weeks after a hospital in northern Idaho announced they would close their labor and delivery unit citing "doctor shortages" and the state's "political climate."

Valor Health Hospital cited "financial issues" and "staffing shortages," in particular for nurses, as the reasons the critical care hospital will halt its labor and delivery services. 

Valor Health, located in Emmet, Idaho, said the hospital had seen a significant drop in babies being born. Emmet has a population of just under 8,000 people. 

"Despite numerous investments made in the program, Valor Health Hospital is projected to deliver fewer than 50 babies this year," the hospital said in a statement posted on its website. It also said it has been "extremely difficult" and "unsustainably expensive" to recruit high-quality nurses to work in a rural setting.

Access to maternal care is already limited for mothers and mothers-to-be in rural areas. A 2022 March of Dimes study says limited access to care affects up to 6.9 million women nationwide. 

Valor Health Hospital is located about an hour from Boise, a region the March of Dimes study classifies as a "maternity care desert." This means women have no access to OBs, birth centers or certified nurse midwives in their county, the study says. Valor says in their news release they are working to build partnerships with "nearby health systems" for mothers-to-be to deliver babies.

In its announcement shutting their labor and delivery unit, Bonner General Health said these challenges have been compounded by the "political climate." Idaho has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country. The Idaho Capital Sun reported on the state's decision to defund a state maternal mortality review committee that saves mothers' lives.

"Highly respected, talented physicians are leaving. Recruiting replacements will be extraordinarily difficult," Bonner General Health said.

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