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Advisors: Rickie Brawer, PhD, MPH-Thomas Jefferson University; Dr. Marjie Mogul, PhD and Kistine Carolan, M.S.S.-Maternity Care Coalition, Philadelphia, PA


Since 1997 the closure of maternity wards has emerged as a new trend in the city of Philadelphia. The most recent closure was that of Northeastern Hospital leaving only six hospitals with fully operating maternity wards available for the 23,570 annual births. The aim of the study is to assess the impact of the closure of Northeastern Hospital’s maternity ward on Women, Children, and Infant (WIC) clients from the community served by Northeastern Hospital. Specifically, to determine the decision-making factors when choosing a hospital for obstetrical care and delivery. The 18 question bilingual survey was administered to 133 women at a WIC office near Northeastern Hospital. To be eligible for WIC services women must meet state residency requirements, income guidelines, and be identified as at “nutritional risk” by a health professional to be eligible. Survey results showed that prior to the closing of the maternity ward at Northeastern Hospital, 34% of the women had given birth at Temple University Hospital, 15% at Northeastern, 11% at Albert Einstein Medical Center, and 9% at Pennsylvania Hospital. Since the closing of Northeastern Hospital, 43% of women surveyed were planning to deliver their next child at TUH, 14% at AEMC, and 12% at Pennsylvania Hospital. Interestingly 5% of women were still planning to deliver at Northeastern Hospital. When asked if the closure of Northeastern’s maternity ward had an impact on their pregnancy, of the 82 women who answered, 33% said that it had a negative impact on them, 64% reported the closure had no impact on them and 2% were unaware of the closure. The findings of this study suggest that former patients of Northeastern Hospital are now utilizing services at AEMC, Pennsylvania Hospital, and Hahnemann with a majority at TUH. While a third of women indicated they were negatively affected by the closure itself, subsequent studies could investigate the impact on services and safety as remaining maternity units experience marked increases in patient volume.