So many babies are coming into the world at Greenville Memorial Hospital that the obstetrics department is at capacity.
That means expectant mothers with low-risk pregnancies may soon find themselves giving birth at Patewood Memorial Hospital as Greenville Health System expands its OB services to the Eastside.
“We have grown quite a bit,” Dr. Donald Wiper, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, told The Greenville News.
“We did about 4,500 births at Greenville Memorial in 2010 and over 5,600 in 2014,” he added. “We’re full.”
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Combined with Greer Memorial, some 6,500 babies were born at GHS facilities this year, the highest number in GHS history, he said.
That’s meant looking for some innovative ways to handle the volume, he said, including delaying inductions and rescheduling Cesarean sections so long as they are medically permitted, and babies being born in non-labor and delivery rooms, though with full equipment and staff.
So officials decided Patewood Memorial, which has an unoccupied fourth floor, would be ripe for expansion. High risk births, which typically account for about a quarter of all deliveries at GHS, will remain at Greenville Memorial, Wiper said.
With eight new labor and delivery rooms equipped with tubs for water births, 16 post-partem rooms, two ORs and a full nursery, Patewood will have the capacity for 2,500 deliveries a year, Wiper said.
While there is no ER at Patewood, the hospital will have obstetricians on site round the clock to triage patients, Wiper said.
In addition to a growing population, one of the reasons for the increase in births was the introduction of a certified midwife program, which accounts for almost 700 of the births, he said.
No state approval for the project was necessary. So if work begins immediately, the new OB department could be ready by the middle of 2016, Wiper said.
The cost is estimated at between $10 million and $18 million, he said.
The expansion will mean a combination of new hires and transfers from Greenville Memorial, he said, including physicians, nurses and support staff.
GHS’s board of trustees approved of the plan Tuesday.