3,137 Babies Born at Maimonides in 5 Months


babiesAs maternity wards in hospitals across Brooklyn have closed their doors, those in the borough that haven’t are scrambling to keep up with a big influx of births. At Maimonides Medical Center, the 74 babies born in 48 hours two weeks ago set a record – but that was just the tip of the iceberg. In the first five months of this year, 3,137 babies were born at the Borough Park hospital – up 16% since 2006. “I don’t think there’s a biological event going on…” said Dr. Howard Minkoff, chairman of Maimonides’ obstetrics and gynecology.

Instead, Minkoff attributed the jump to the recent closings of St. Mary’s and Victory Memorial Hospitals, along with Long Island College Hospital’s threat to close its obstetrics unit.

“We [deliver babies] at some financial cost,” he said, noting that because of low insurance reimbursement rates, hospitals lose $1,000-$4,000 on every delivery. “Other hospitals have made a different calculus.”

Interfaith Medical Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant shuttered its maternity ward in 2004. Boroughwide, the number of obstetrics beds has dropped from 418 in 2001 to 377 today – meaning fewer beds to handle the same number of births.

At Methodist Hospital in Park Slope, 1,887 women gave birth from January through April of this year – up 22% from last year and 38% from 2007.

Dr. Steven Silver, vice president for medical affairs at Methodist, said many patients who would otherwise have given birth at LICH – where the state would not allow the maternity ward to be closed, but births have still fallen 19% – ended up at Methodist. Five doctors have also moved from LICH to Methodist, which has added three new labor and delivery rooms in the last two years.

“Now it’s getting tight again,” said Silver. “I don’t think we anticipated such a big rush so soon. LICH was a big surprise.”

Other hospitals reported more modest increases. Births at SUNY Downstate are up 5% since 2005.

Maimonides has nearly doubled its number of labor and delivery suites but is still struggling to keep up with high demand. “Once or twice a month you’ll have days that are just overwhelming,” Minkoff said. There was a smaller spike last week, with 33 babies delivered on Wednesday, compared to an average of 20 a day.

“Under no circumstances do we allow [patients] to be unsafe, but sometimes we can’t prevent inconvenience,” he said, adding women are sometimes kept waiting for delivery or recovery rooms. “We do go around and say I’m sorry, which I have had to learn to say in 51 languages.”

At Methodist, the biggest crunch comes after women have given birth. “We’re not throwing anybody out, [but] we’re trying to encourage people to go home as soon as they’re ready,” Silver said.

{NY Daily News/Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}