Petaluma Valley Hospital's Family Birthing Center has received international recognition and has one of the highest in-hospital breastfeeding rates in the state.
But Providence Healthcare, who owns Petaluma Valley Hospital through its secular subsidiary, NorCal Health Connect, has announced a plan to close the center just two years after purchasing the hospital.
Providence said declining birth rates, a failure to recruit new physicians, and a lack of anesthesia services are behind the decision to consolidate obstetric care at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
The surprise announcement has prompted push back from staff, the community, and the elected board of Petaluma's Healthcare District.
In a response to Providence's closure announcement, Petaluma Health Care District CEO Ramona Faith noted Providence's commitment to keep the Birthing Center open for at least five years after their 2021 purchase.
Faith said the board "has not agreed to this outcome," and noted that without majority approval by the Board, closing the Birthing Center will result in a default under Providence's purchase agreement.
The healthcare district board voiced unanimous opposition to the closure at a special meeting on January 25th, with more discussion of next steps set for the board's regularly scheduled meeting on February 15th.