EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — Mayo Clinic Health System has made the difficult decision to transition labor and delivery services from Mayo Clinic Health System — Northland in Barron and Mayo Clinic Health System — Red Cedar in Menomonie to Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.
Labor and delivery services in Barron transitioned Friday, Aug. 26, when Mayo Clinic Health System began a planned modernization to operating rooms at that location. Labor and delivery services will continue in Menomonie through the end of 2022. The transition of labor and delivery services from Menomonie to Eau Claire will take effect Jan. 1, 2023.
Prenatal care (12–15 office visits during pregnancy) and postpartum care (office visits after delivery), OB-Nest (a virtual prenatal program) and gynecological services will continue to be provided in Barron and Menomonie.
Providing excellent birthing services to patients requires 24/7 coverage from OB-GYN physicians to ensure appropriate support for unexpected events during labor and delivery, such as emergency cesarean sections. After October, Barron will not have any OB-GYN physicians, and Menomonie will have one OB-GYN physician. With continued coverage from a regional OB-GYN physician, labor and delivery services will continue in Menomonie through the end of 2022.
Mayo Clinic Health System has been aggressively recruiting for several open OB-GYN positions over the past two years. These relentless efforts have been unsuccessful in filling these critical physician openings, reflecting a worsening OB-GYN physician shortage across the country.
"We are incredibly grateful for the contributions of our labor and delivery staff and the excellent care they have provided in Barron and Menomonie for many years," says Richard Helmers, M.D., regional vice president of Mayo Clinic Health System in Northwest Wisconsin. "Our teams in Barron and Menomonie will continue to provide exceptional, high-quality prenatal and postnatal care, along with gynecological services to best serve the health care needs of our patients. Mayo Clinic Health System is not leaving Barron nor Menomonie. We have thriving clinical and surgical practices at both locations. Hospital-based labor and delivery are the only services transitioning."
Transitioning labor and delivery services to Eau Claire will offer patients the most comprehensive care available in Northwest Wisconsin at one location. Eau Claire offers a Level 2 special care nursery, providing a higher level of care than is available at the critical-access hospital locations in Barron and Menomonie.
It already has been standard practice for all high-risk pregnancies to deliver in Eau Claire. Because of close collaboration, Mayo Clinic Health System can provide immediate consultations with world-renowned Mayo Clinic neonatology experts in Rochester.
"It is an honor to care for the residents of Northwest Wisconsin, and we appreciate the trust they have placed in us," says Jason Craig, regional chair of administration for Mayo Clinic Health System in Northwest Wisconsin. "We understand the uncertainty this may cause. Mayo Clinic Health System remains fully committed to providing the very best care. Our prenatal care providers will work directly with patients to coordinate labor and delivery care at our Family Birth Center in Eau Claire. Our top priorities are to provide a seamless transition for patients ensuring a positive birth experience and to maintain employment for all staff."
Patients are being notified that they have the option to make plans for delivering their baby in Eau Claire or Menomonie through the end of 2022 and in Eau Claire beyond Jan. 1, 2023. Patients who have routine questions regarding pregnancy can call the number for the clinic where they are receiving care. Patients who are experiencing labor can call the Mayo Clinic Health System Family Birth Center in Eau Claire at 715-838-3135. Family Birth Center staff can answer questions and be prepared for the patient's arrival. In case of an emergency, patients should call 911.