Lourdes Hospital closing birth center

PASCO, Wash. -- For the first time in nearly a century, babies will no longer be born at Lourdes Hospital. Managers tell KEPR the decision was tough but necessary.

"There's a lot of pressure to reduce costs," says Lourdes CEO John Serle.

The decision means pregnant women in Pasco now have to travel across the river to give birth. Government cutbacks are the main reasons why. Hospital workers tell KEPR the government sequester, coupled with the start of universal healthcare, has left Lourdes with a tight budget.

"It's a necessary thing to meet the needs of the community. The community grows and morphs over the years," says Serle.

The closure with happen at the end of this month

The decision to close the birth center means 60 workers will lose their jobs. At the same time, the jobs of nurses at other hospitals could become more hectic. 400 babies will now be born at other hospitals in the Tri-Cities. It means an even greater workload for places like Kadlec, which just last month saw a record number of babies born in its ICU.

"We know births are unpredictable, so we're prepared to handle that at any moment," says Melanie O'Brien, Kadlec Hospital.

Kadlec workers tell Action News they only expect one additional birth a day with the changes.

In the end, the biggest change may be symbolic. With the closure, the days of babies born in Pasco will soon come to an end.