Final Baby Born Before Tobey Hospital in Wareham Closes Maternity Ward for Good
This week saw the last baby ever to be born Tobey Hospital in Wareham.
On December 27, surrogate mom Elizabeth Arone gave birth to a healthy baby girl at Tobey's maternity ward. Arone was the last scheduled delivery in the ward, and the ward was completely empty except for her and the baby's family, according to Wareham Week.
The maternity ward is closing at the end of 2019 after months of protest by nurses, who defended Tobey's good record and asserted that Southcoast Health was creating a maternity care desert in the region. Southcoast is now directing pregnant women in the Wareham area to St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford. As part of that plan, the maternity ward at St. Luke’s is being expanded.
Southcoast announced August 29 that the ward would be closed for good. The Massachusetts Department of Health held a public hearing in October and did determine that the maternity services Tobey provides are “essential” to the region. However, MassDPH has no power under the law to override Southcoast’s decision.
At the time, Southcoast said the decision to consolidate maternity care at St. Luke's would result in enhanced care. The health care group also said the maternity ward at Wareham was unsustainable.