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The Closing of Maternity Wards — And What To Do About It

Lakes Region General Hospital is just the latest hospital in New Hampshire to close its unit that cares for women in labor and delivers babies. It's the ninth hospital since 2000 to do so. We examine what's behind this national trend and how the state is responding. Among the solutions: freestanding birth centers and maternity training for emergency dispatchers. 


  • Dr. Timothy Fisher -  Director of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Program at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. He received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study factors leading to closures of the units and how these impact the state. 
  • Kate Hartwell -  Certified professional midwife and owner of the Concord Birth Center. 
  • Dr. Katy Kozhimannil - Professor of health policy and management at the University of Minnesota; her resarch focuses on challenges in rural obstetric health care access.  For links to her research and coverage of her work, visit here
  • Autumn Vergo -  A certified nurse midwife at the Cheshire Medical Center in Keene.  

Related Reading

Ninth N.H. hospital since 2000 closes labor and delivery unit.  

The University of Minnesota has conducted extensive research on diminishing access to rural maternity care in the U.S. 

Scientific American reports: Maternal health care is disappearing in rural America. 

An in-depth report on the plight of pregnant women in rural North Carolina. 

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