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More than 40 California hospitals closed maternity wards in a decade

Outlines of the Madera Community Hospital sign being covered by a tarp at the Emergency Room entrance of the hospital on Jan. 2, 2023. Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue announced a state of emergency for the county when the hospital shut its doors due to bankruptcy. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local

Few regions in California have escaped the impact of maternity ward closures in the past decade. At least 46 hospitals have permanently closed or suspended labor and delivery since 2012, a CalMatters analysis of hospital records found. About 60% of the closures have taken place in just the last three years.


These closures are being driven by a combination of factors, including high costs, inflation, labor shortages and declining birth rates, according to hospital administrators and experts.

In some cases, communities are losing decades-old maternity units. Four counties lost their last maternity ward in the past 10 years, with three of those closing since 2022. In others, the maternity ward was short-lived. For example, Palmdale Regional Medical Center in the high desert of Los Angeles County opened a birth center in 2021 before closing it last month, citing “lower than anticipated” births.


Hospitals are closing maternity wards in urban and rural communities. By far, Los Angeles County recorded the most closures. It accounts for 15 of the hospitals that shut maternity wards.


Here are the hospitals that closed or indefinitely suspended labor and delivery since 2012:


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