Mission Health says its decision to stop delivering babies at Angel Medical Center in Macon County was made to keep the hospital open. Mission estimates around 400 children a year are currently born at the Franklin facility, roughly one per day. CEO Dr. Ronald Paulus says labor and delivery care at Angel Medical loses the hospital between $1 and $2-million per year, which he says puts all the other healthcare done at the facility in jeopardy. “We can’t let one program, even important, put all of the care at risk for a rural community. We just can’t do it.”
After July 14th, expecting mothers will have to give birth at Mission’s main hospital in Asheville – over an hour away from Franklin – or at Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva, which is operated by Duke LifePoint. Mission will now partner with its competitor to ensure those who can’t or won’t come to Asheville will be able to have their babies at Harris Regional. Mission’s decision to stop deliveries at Angel Medical Center has infuriated many in Macon County, and Paulus is trying to reassure residents there that Mission isn’t abandoning them. “Who among us hasn’t at some point - for our family, for loved ones – had to make decision between two bad alternatives. And you have to choose the least bad and the most effective for that community.”
As it announced the end of deliveries at Angel Medical Center, Mission also trumpeted that it will build a new facility to replace the current hospital in Franklin. Paulus says renovating the current Angel Medical Center would actually cost more than building a new one. A timeframe for when it will be completed hasn’t been determined. Mission estimates around 25 workers are employed in their labor and delivery services at Angel Medical Center - including doctors, nurses, and midwives. Mission will look to place all of them in other jobs in the health system.