Putnam County Hospital to close OB unit Sept. 19

Friday, August 19, 2011
Jamie Cooper

Dr. Jamie Cooper, OB/GYN, began with Putnam Women's Healthcare five years ago. She assisted Dr. C.Y. Ho in the caring of Putnam County's women in regard to gynecological and obstetrical care until his retirement last fall.

While here, Cooper built her practice to nearly 3,000 patients.

"I love all of my patients here," Cooper said.

In May of this year, family illness required Cooper to make a difficult decision. As much as she would like to stay in Greencastle and continue her practice, her family commitment has asked more of her, moving her out of this area.

She completed her practice at PCH on July 1.

"I am really going to miss my patients, the staff and the community," she added.

Kristine Knapp

Dr. Kristine Knapp joined the practice in August 2010 and has quickly adapted to the office, hospital and community. She will continue to provide gynecological services through the Putnam Women's Healthcare office located at the hospital.

As Putnam County Hospital has experienced in the recent past, the search for a fulltime physician for the practice has proven again to be a challenge.

"We are not the only hospital in the state seeking OB/GYN physicians right now," CEO Dennis Weatherford said, "They are in high demand and in short supply."

The difficulty in finding a fulltime physician for a rural community has led to discussions regarding the future of women's health services locally.

"We have had numerous discussions with the physicians, managers and community members about the services for the women of our area," Weatherford said.

After lengthy deliberations regarding what would be best for the community, staff and the hospital, it was decided that Putnam Women's Healthcare will remain open for gynecological services with Knapp.

However, the Family Life Center, also known as the OB Unit, will close effective Monday, Sept. 19 at 7 a.m.

"This was a very difficult decision to make. We truly regret having to close a service line that is of need in our area," Weatherford added.

With today's Indiana Medicaid reimbursement rates, community healthcare facilities are often left with an unsustainable payment structure. The underpayments to hospitals and healthcare providers create a deficit, placing a greater financial burden on the hospital, community and state.

Medicaid reimburses Indiana hospitals approximately 50 cents of every dollar that it costs to provide the medical care to Medicaid recipients.

Approximately 80 percent of the nearly 200 babies delivered annually at PCH are covered by Medicaid.

Dennis Weatherford

Due to drastic underpayments, most facilities have come to a point in which they are unable to provide obstetrics care any longer.

"Unfortunately, the state's Medicaid program does not adequately cover the cost of this service, and with the shortage of delivering physicians in the state, we have come to a point in which we are unable to sustain this department any further," Weatherford said.

The difficult decision to close the labor and delivery unit at PCH follows the lead of several facilities across the state over the past decade.

"We had hoped that we could remain the 'exception to the rule,' but we cannot any longer," Weatherford said.

Putnam County Hospital has been in operation since 1924 and after nearly 87 years, it will be disappointing that this service will be no longer available, Weatherford added.

However, the Putnam County Hospital Board of Trustees will continue to evaluate the sustainability for the return of local comprehensive obstetric services in the future.

"We would like to thank the families that utilized this local service while it was available," Weatherford said, "We wish we could continue the service for future patients and families."

The hospital will continue to deliver up until the Sept. 19 closing date.

Putnam County Hospital will continue to provide gynecological services, such as family planning, annual exams, hysterectomies, LEEP Cone biopsies, Essure sterilizations and NovaSure uterine ablations.

During the transition phase, Dr. Patrick John Woodman, has agreed to assist Knapp with weekend coverage.

Woodman completed his Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University and continued specialized studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, and Indiana University. He completed obstetrical residency at Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc, Mich.

Woodman is a fulltime urogynecologist and provides temporary on-call relief for obstetricians around central Indiana.

Current patients of the practice are welcome to contact the office with any questions or concerns they may have regarding their care, by calling 655-2686 during normal business hours.