Moving Births Closer to Home

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When the Winchester District Memorial Hospital Board of Directors was in strategic planning stages in June 2006, members began to question whether their facility could continue to deliver obstetric care when the program was no longer cost-efficient.

The hospital was reporting 300 to 350 births a year and, like most areas in the country, Winchester’s birthrate was going down.

But when they examined data from CIHI’s Discharge Abstract Database of where moms lived and delivered their babies, Winchester officials discovered that more than 800 low-risk obstetrical cases were going to nearby urban hospitals, primarily The Ottawa Hospital.

“The ultimate decision was that if we could repatriate just 50% of those births and add another 400 cases, we would have a very viable obstetrics program in this community hospital,” says former CEO Trudy Reid.

At the same time, Winchester and other area hospitals were starting discussions with the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) about moving low-risk maternity cases from the tertiary care Ottawa Hospital into community hospitals to relieve pressure. Both the LHIN and Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care were supportive of shifting funding, allowing money to flow where the mother goes.

Doubling the number of births meant the hospital expansion plan had to be changed to add new space. The new facility opened in January 2009. Without CIHI’s data, however, the revitalization of the obstetrics program would not have happened. Hospital officials would not have known so many mothers were delivering elsewhere.

“The data—turned into information—was critical. It drove decisions,” Reid says.