File Photo – Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital | Photo: Centegra Health

Northwestern Medicine announced their McHenry hospital will eliminate labor and delivery services starting this coming Tuesday after a state board approved the change earlier this week.

The ​​​​​Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board met on Tuesday and voted 7-1 to allow the Northwestern Medicine Hospital in McHenry to close their obstetrics and gynecology department.

Expectant mothers will have to drive to Northwestern Medicine Hospital in Huntley for labor and delivery.

A spokesperson for Northwestern Medicine said they are “centralizing” their obstetrics and newborn services in McHenry County by transitioning services from their McHenry hospital to their Huntley hospital.

“By providing these services in a single location, Northwestern Medicine will be able to grow and enhance the high-quality obstetrics care currently provided, including the recently added maternal fetal medicine specialists in Huntley who are available to perform routine ultrasounds and treat patients who may have high-risk pregnancies,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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“All outpatient women’s and children’s services, including offices in obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics, will remain in communities throughout McHenry County and northern Kane County, ensuring patients will receive care close to where they live and work. In addition, Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital will continue to offer gynecologic surgery,” the statement added.

Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital will have an obstetrics and gynecology physician on call for emergencies.

The transition of services is set to occur at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, December 21.

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board previously held a public hearing on the issue in October.

Illinois State Senator Craig Wilcox of McHenry said he spoke out against the hospital’s application and asked officials from Northwestern Medicine multiple questions, which he said he did not get any answers to.

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“Why [was] consolidation at Huntley was chosen, instead of consolidation at McHenry, which has almost twice as many births yearly, and especially since Huntley is a mere 10 minutes from Sherman,” he asked in October.

“This morning, I renewed my objections and expressed my deep concern that significant gaps in access and care will materialize when expectant mothers have to travel a half-hour or more to deliver their babies,” Wilcox said on Tuesday.

“Today’s decision is not in the best interest of the communities I serve in this region. By adding a minimum half-hour to the drive to the hospital for delivery, high-risk patients will be placed at greater risk for devastating outcomes,” Wilcox said.

Several fire departments in McHenry County wrote letters to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board saying they disapproved of the plan, arguing the change would delay providing high-level care to expectant mothers.

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“We are aligning inpatient women’s and children’s services at Northwestern Medicine Huntley Hospital to provide an elevated program in one location,” said Thomas McAfee, senior vice president at Northwestern Memorial HealthCare.

“With an established affiliation with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago for 24/7 in-house neonatal and pediatric coverage, we are heightening the level of care we provide to newborns, children and parents, close to home,” McAfee said.