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Healthcare workers protest maternity ward closure outside Scripps Health event

Healthcare workers protest maternity ward closure outside Scripps Health event
Posted at 11:11 PM, Apr 20, 2024

CORONADO, Calif. (KGTV) — Healthcare workers protested the closure of Scripps Mercy Hospital's maternity ward in Chula Vista Saturday afternoon.

"Babies over profits! Moms over profits!" they chanted. The demonstrators gathered outside the Hotel Del Coronado, over 20 minutes away from the hospital.

"This afternoon Scripps Mercy Foundation is having their Mercy Ball for donors," Dr. Susanna Chou said. "We've tried to talk to Scripps corporate and haven't really gotten anywhere. We're hoping to appeal directly to the donors."

Chou is helping to lead the charge in keeping the maternity ward in the South Bay.

Scripps Health gave its 90-day notice to consolidate the ward with its hospital in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego last month.

"It's a population that is disproportionately low income, women of color, many of whom don't have access to a private car or may have difficulty with being able to travel long distances to get the maternity care and the new newborn care that they need," Chou said.

Chou believes the main argument against the consolidation with the ward in Hillcrest is that it's about 12 miles away, leaving only one maternity unit in the southern part of the county. That's at Sharp Chula Vista Hospital.

"When you have an obstetrical emergency, it's a matter of minutes in order to save the mother and the baby's life," she said.

Scripps Health said in response that the consolidation is happening to meet "increasing demands of patients coming in through the emergency room and for other inpatient needs."

In a statement, the health system added that it will "ensure safe emergency labor and delivery services with appropriate staffing."

Despite the looming summer deadline announced by Scripps Health, healthcare workers are not giving up hope yet.

"My biggest fear is that babies will not have the chance to live," said Gilda Recodo, a nurse at the Scripps Mercy Hospital.

Last month, some doctors sent letters to the California Department of Public Health for an impact investigation, although the department clarified that no such requirement exists.