LEOMINSTER, MASS. (WHDH) - A group of people rallied in a show of support Tuesday as they try to keep the maternity ward at UMass Memorial Health Alliance-Clinton Hospital open.  

UMass Memorial Health recently announced that they plan to close the ward in September. Protestors, though, have said the shutdown will have a negative impact on the region. 

“It’s like the worst thing they could possibly be doing,” said labor and delivery nurse Amy Gagnon. “It’s so dangerous for our patients. We’re going to be having moms deliver in the emergency room.”

Gagnon was one of dozens of people showing up outside the hospital in Leominster

UMass Memorial Health Alliance-Clinton Hospital President Steve Roach discussed the planned closure in a statement, blaming the move, in part, on hiring challenges.

“In recent years, industry-wide workforce shortages have exacerbated the challenges of fully staffing our maternity inpatient unit,” Roach said. “This, along with the steadily declining number of births in North Central Massachusetts has a significant impact on our unit’s future capacity to provide labor and delivery care to our patients.”

“It’s not true,” said Michele McDonough, a postpartum nurse. “Most nurses would die for a position on maternity and labor and delivery.”

The mayor of Fitchburg, whose residents would also be impacted by the upcoming shutdown, also showed up to support on Tuesday. 

“This area is growing,” said Mayor Stephen DiNatale. “It’s not diminishing. We need a maternity ward.”

The maternity ward closure in Leominster was still pending regulatory approval from the state Department of Public Health as of Tuesday. 

If the unit does close, said rally attendee Francisco Ramos, “there is a good 10, 15 communities that will not have a maternity unit.

“They’ll have to either go to Gardner 15, 20 minutes from here or Saint Vincent’s in Worcester, which is even farther away,” Ramos said.

Hospital officials have said patients would still be able to get pre- and postnatal care at UMass Memorial Health Alliance-Clinton Hospital if the maternity ward closure goes forward.

(Copyright (c) 2023 State House News Service.

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