Jan 17, 2024 - Health

Fayetteville hospital adds staff to deliver babies

Illustration of a crib sitting beneath a mobile with a hanging medical cross

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville now has obstetric hospitalists on staff to help in labor and delivery — including for patients who unexpectedly show up.

Why it matters: As Northwest Arkansas' population increases, so does the number of babies born here. Obstetric hospitalists are needed to care for the expected rise in patient numbers, Washington Regional's chief operating officer, Birch Wright, told Axios.

By the numbers: The Fayetteville hospital saw 2,563 babies born in 2023, up from 2,466 in 2019.

Between the lines: Some people don't have a birth plan or a doctor on call and go to the nearest emergency room when it's time to give birth. Other patients go into labor early, when their doctors aren't available. Hospitalists can assist in these cases and with other births.

  • When pregnant patients don't receive prenatal care and show up at the hospital to give birth, "it does present a little higher risk because you haven't established any type of rapport or care with that patient, so you don't know what you're walking into," Ryan Gholson, one of the new hospitalists, told Axios.

Details: Washington Regional used to contract with a company for some obstetric hospitalist coverage. Now, it has two on staff full time, with tentative plans to be up to five by the end of the year, Wright said.

  • Of note: Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas has nine obstetric hospitalists on staff, spokesperson Nate Kuester told Axios.

The intrigue: Having hospitalists on staff can help emergency patients be seen faster and improve the work-life balance of on-call physicians, Wright and Gholson said.


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