UPDATED: L+M works to provide some women services at The Westerly Hospital

Editor's note: This version corrects an earlier headline.

Westerly - Lawrence + Memorial Hospital is helping prepare an application to the Rhode Island Department of Health seeking approval to discontinue labor and delivery services at The Westerly Hospital, which it is seeking to acquire, but still provide the services of an obstetrician and nurse midwife in Westerly.

L+M is working on the application with attorney Mark Russo, the court-appointed special master in charge of The Westerly Hospital in the receivership process, L+M spokesman Mike O'Farrell said Friday.

"We are working with the special master to file a joint plan regarding OB services with the Rhode Island Department of Health," O'Farrell said. "In that plan, we are proposing to recruit one additional OB provider and one certified nurse midwife."

O'Farrell said both positions would be full-time.

At a community forum Thursday, Russo said the Rhode Island health department "has been notified" of the plan to discontinue maternity services after June 1. A formal application to eliminate maternity services or any other service at Westerly Hospital, however, has not yet been submitted, according to Dara Chadwick, health department spokeswoman.

Chadwick also said that L+M's application to purchase Westerly Hospital has not yet been deemed complete, and no hearings have been scheduled yet.

During the forum, Dr. Christopher Lehrach, chief transformation officer/interim operations, said L+M is committed to maintaining prenatal, postpartum and gynecological care and services at Westerly Hospital and in the Westerly community. He said the acquisition would make Westerly Hospital part of the L+M Hospital system that includes a 24-bed maternity unit, its neonatal intensive care unit at the main hospital in New London and the services of 13 obstetrician-gynecologists and midwives.

There are currently just two obstetricians in Westerly, both of whom are more than 60 years old and will not remain in practice after June 1, Lehrach said.

j.benson@theday.com

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