Newsroom Cox Monett Hospital to discontinue birthing services Posted on April 27, 2023 Cox Monett plans to close its inpatient labor and delivery unit by July 1. In recent years, rural hospitals nationwide have made the difficult decision to close their maternity wards. Cox Monett has made every effort to avoid the maternity care crisis. With a national shortage of physicians, it has become even more difficult to recruit obstetricians and family practice physicians to rural areas. Over the last year, CoxHealth has been working to save Cox Monett’s obstetrics program through many recruitment strategies. To address the shortfall of physicians, Cox Monett contracted with an outside firm to provide additional OB/GYN resources to assist family practice physicians who also provide obstetric care. Even though assistance is being provided to help with deliveries, caring for newborns 24 hours a day, seven days a week, cannot be sustained with only two specialized on-site family practice physicians. In addition, recruitment teams at CoxHealth have been working diligently to attract physicians to practice in Monett. Some efforts include connecting with medical students who have an interest in rural medicine, a competitive compensation package, expanding recruitment efforts to include various specialties, leveraging the CoxHealth Family Medicine Residency Program, and incorporating a team-based care approach into the practice setting. Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to recruit enough physicians with the requisite skills to maintain the service.“It was a hard decision to eliminate this service and one we did not want to make, but in the end, the program is not sustainable without the number of physicians needed,” says Andrea McKay, president of Cox Monett.“Patient safety is our top priority, and we are committed to providing a smooth transition for the health of mom and baby as we begin the process of discontinuing labor and delivery services. Patients will be contacted individually so we can work with them and their physician on a tailored care plan moving forward.” To facilitate a seamless transition, maternity care, neonatal care, and other obstetric needs will continue for patients at CoxHealth in Springfield or a provider of their choice. Patients who are experiencing hardship may be eligible to receive assistance from the CoxHealth Foundation. Funds may be used to cover the price of travel, lodging, and other expenses related to prenatal and obstetric care. Representatives from the CoxHealth Foundation will be at Cox Monett through April 27 to assist with the application process. For additional questions regarding financial assistance, patients may call 417-269-7150. CoxHealth is committed to making every effort to retain all affected employees. Labor and delivery staff members will be able transfer to open positions throughout the health system, with many opportunities available locally.