But St. James Hospital CEO says 'never say 'never''

HORNELL — The new chief executive officer of St. James Hospital is not closing the door completely on the hospital ever offering maternity services again.

But Bryan J. O’Donovan, M.P.A., M.S., who was appointed hospital CEO and president by the St. James Board of Directors in June, said there are no plans to revive obstetrical and maternity services at this time, and he noted the new medical facility currently under construction in Hornellsville and scheduled to open in 2020 does not include maternity space in its design.

The St. James Mercy Hospital Medicaid, Obstetrical and Maternal Services (MOMS) Program closed at the end of April 2015. At that time the hospital was in a healthcare transition period, after re-affirming its partnership with UR Medicine a month earlier.

The last full year of baby deliveries at St. James was 2014, when there were 227 deliveries in the Pullman Women’s Health and Birthing Center. A top hospital executive at that time said deliveries were on the decline in 2015, adding “we simply will not have the volume to operate a full, in-hospital maternity department."

O’Donovan said he is aware that the discontinuation of the maternity unit disappointed many people in Hornell and the Canisteo Valley.

“I’ve heard it from some community members, and it’s understandable,” O’Donovan said. “I understand that they’re from Hornell, and the delivery won’t say on their birth certificate that they were born in Hornell. I clearly empathize with where they’re coming from.”

O’Donovan was not with the Hornell hospital in 2015, and therefore was not privy to every factor that was considered before the decision was reached. Right now the focus is on the “core services” that will be offered at the new facility, O’Donovan said.

The hospital will feature 15 inpatient beds; an Emergency Department with eight treatment rooms and four observation rooms; a surgical suite with two operating rooms and two procedures rooms; phlebotomy and lab services; extensive imaging services; infusion services; and a pharmacy.

“There’s obviously not a labor and delivery floor there. I’m not really sure, moving forward, it’s not really a part of the design plan,” O’Donovan said.

Meanwhile, Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville and Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville maintain maternity units and are the closest options for expectant moms.

Will St. James ever have a maternity unit again?

O’Donovan said this: “I would never say ‘never.’ It’s not in the initial hospital plans when we open in 2020. That’s probably the best way that I can say it. You can never close the door on anything because you never know.”