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Costs Forcing Some Hospitals to Stop Delivering Babies


MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (AP) — Last month's closing of Unity Point Hospital's obstetrics unit in 

Marshalltown was only the most recent in Iowa.

The Iowa Public Health Department says nearly three dozen community hospitals have stopped delivering babies in the past two decades, and eight stopped last year — the most yet in one year.

Stephen Hunter is vice chairman of obstetrics at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. He says Iowa's aging population and shrinking rural numbers are among key reasons for the closures.

Hansen Family Hospital CEO Doug Morse told Iowa Public Radio that the increased expense of labor and delivery care led officials to end deliveries at the Iowa Falls facility in November.

That forced Jessica Sheridan of Iowa Falls to travel an hour away to deliver her daughter in Ames.