WNH Addresses Changes To OB Care In Cowley County


Healthcare options are suddenly limited for expecting women in Cowley County.

The Sunflower Birth Center will close July 14, according to a news release Thursday from William Newton Hospital in Winfield. This closure announcement comes after SCK Health Medical Center’s obstetrics (OB) unit closed on March 25.

“This news, combined with the recent closure of SCK Health Medical Center’s OB unit, means that the landscape of obstetrical care in Cowley County is changing,” WNH stated. “William Newton Hospital has worked with Tarena Sisk, CNM and Jamie Harrington, CNM for many years, and is saddened by this news.”

The hospital said it is not restricting midwives from delivering at its facility.

“As a Critical Access Hospital, we must comply with certain federal regulations,” WNH said. “Regulations for Critical Access Hospitals are different than other larger hospitals or health systems and are more stringent. In this regard, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires that all inpatient medical records be reviewed and signed by a doctor of medicine  or doctor of osteopathy.

“It is imperative that WNH and all of our providers hold ourselves accountable to these standards of care in our facility.”

(Photo courtesy WNH)

Currently, the certified nurse midwives at Sunflower Birth Center have a collaboration agreement in place with physicians to meet the CMS requirements, WNH says. The current agreement between the midwives and physicians expires this October.

“It is our understanding the parties have not come to terms on extending the agreement,” the hospital said. “WNH fully supports women in our community having options for healthcare, and it is unfortunate that Sunflower Birth Center has decided to cease operations.

“Our hospital is committed to working with the certified nurse midwives at Sunflower Birth Center during the remaining months of practice to ensure patients experience the highest level of care.”

WNH says it’s birthing center is prepared for the changed landscape.

“To ensure the patients previously served by SCK Health have a place to deliver, William Newton Family Birthing Center has been in communication with delivering providers,” the hospital said. “WNH has flexibility in its staffing, resources, and facilities to meet the needs of those patients. The first step is for the providers who are interested in delivering here to go through the credentialing process to receive privileges.

“This process has already begun, and if any patients go into labor before it is finalized there is a procedure in place.”

In its news release, WNH said it wants to assure the community it has the staff on hand to serve the county’s needs when it comes to OB care.

“In Winfield, we currently have three board-certified OB/GYNs practicing at Sunflower OB/GYN at William Newton Hospital,” the hospital said. “In addition, WNH is also working with three family practice physicians who provide OB care from SCK Health in Arkansas City to expand our capacity.”

The William Newton Family Birthing Center is equipped with four labor and delivery rooms, two of which are birthing suites, the hospital said. Both birthing suites feature whirlpool tubs for the laboring process.

“For added safety and convenience, a surgical suite is located on the same floor as our delivery rooms for cesarean sections,” WNH said.” The Family Birthing Center has seven post-partum rooms to care for mom and baby after delivery. No matter the hour of the day or day of the week, we have a certified labor and delivery nurse on site.

“William Newton Family Birthing Center was built on the philosophy that each baby and each birth is unique. We support choices, traditions, and mothers who would like natural childbirth. Our team supports personalized birth plans by providing a safe, secure, and comfortable environment.”

To help patients prepare for delivery at the William Newton Family Birthing Center, free Prepared Childbirth Classes are offered throughout the year for families planning on delivering there, the hospital said. The next prepared childbirth class begins in June.

“The William Newton Family Birthing Center has been recognized as a High 5 for Mom & Baby Premier Facility,” WNH stated. “Our nursing staff is committed to implementing all ten initiatives set forth by the High 5 program in support of breastfeeding mothers and their infants.

“The William Newton Family Birthing Center has also been named number one as the “Best Place to Have a Baby” in the Cowley Courier Traveler’s ‘Best of Cowley County’ reader’s choice awards every year since its inception.”