Expectant Moms, Nurses, Families Protest Closure of Maternity Ward at Munson Manistee

What to expect when you’re expecting? Not this.

Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital announced they’re closing their maternity ward at the end of the month.

Expectant moms will no longer be able to give birth at facility when it closes May 31.

Munson says birth rates in Manistee are at an all-time low.

The hospital delivered just six babies in March.

Expecting moms, families, and medical professionals protested the closure in front of the hospital Friday.

Pregnant women in Manistee County will be forced to deliver their babies at the next closest hospitals, in Ludington and Cadillac, 29 and 59 miles away, respectively.

Courtney Fraley protested because she moved to town to start and family. She says she feels betrayed.

“I’m out here because I’m 13 weeks pregnant today,” said Fraley. “I’m completely shocked I’m not going to be able to give birth in the city I chose to raise a family…I feel scared.”

Casey Waltrip started the Take Back Munson Healthcare Manistee OB!! Facebook page, which at the time of posting, had 944 members.

She had her two daughters in the maternity ward at the hospital and says she is horrified to hear they’re closing.

“It’s unacceptable to do that,” said Waltrip. “We have a perfectly fine OB unit with outstanding nurses and doctors so well equipped and so able to take care of us.”

Waltrip’s past pregnancies have been considered high risk and require weekly care with her doctor to make sure she and her baby are safe. It was convenient having the hospital in town.

Now that it’s closing, she says it will affect her family plans.

“We’ve been possibly talking about trying to expand our family but at this point, we probably won’t,” said Waltrip.

After the maternity ward closes, Manistee will only have one in-facility midwife with a birthing center.

Jennifer Cameron has been doing it for decades and used to be a labor delivery nurse at Manistee’s Munson. She started her own practice and now delivers six to seven babies a month. But she knows her schedule is about to get a lot busier.

“Once this closes, I’m going to be the only one doing deliveries in Manistee county,” said Cameron. “My voicemail has been full at the office, my personal cell phone has been ringing.”

Michigan House of Representative Jack O’Malley says the closing reflects a bigger issue.

“This really shows and heightens [the fact that] we need more employment and reasons to have young families come back, and have babies,” said O’Malley, who represents the 101st district. “Then, we can hire the nurses and doctors to get the job back.”