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Other Voices: Marshall and Harrison County need information from Christus Health about its plans

By Marshall News Messenger
Jan. 2, 2018 at 12:17 a.m.

Transition is a matter of everyday life and especially in these times, transition can have tremendous impact.

The announcement just before Christmas that Christus Good Shepherd-Marshall is moving its labor, delivery and mother/baby services to Longview will be such an impact. With this move, there will be no more babies born here in Marshall.

Since 1909, residents have had the assurance of a local hospital to take care of mother and baby right here. Last month's news means that when a Marshall-area mom-to-be goes into labor, she'd better hope there's not too much traffic between here and a hospital room that will actually care for her. And if you live in Waskom, it is a longer drive.

The decision, according to Christus Health, was made because there has been a "significant decrease" in the number of deliveries performed in the area due to a shrinking and aging population. We wonder what the birth numbers have been per year over the past 10 years. Are they down so much that maternity services must be transferred to Longview? There are still families who live here. We know babies are still being born in Harrison County.

The Marshall hospital has an updated $1.5 million kitchen along with new 3-D mammography, monitoring equipment and landscaping. These are all fine improvements. But taking away maternity services — the one area of a hospital where life actually begins — seems like a sign the end is coming. It is probably not coming tomorrow, or even this year, but it definitely doesn't bode well for the overall health of our hospital.

This continues a trend of reduced payments to and trouble for rural hospitals. It is a trend we don't like and we fear this move will mean more and more services will be moved from rural hospitals to larger, more regional health care facilities.

The end result is that if you live in a rural area, you'd better pray you can make the long drive to the hospital for life-giving care. And you'd better hope the roads are clear and weather is good for driving.

For the betterment of the community, it is time for local residents, Marshall City Commissioners, Marshall ISD leaders, Harrison County commissioners, state Sen. Bryan Hughes and state Rep. Chris Paddie, the Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce, local churches and other civic organizations to ask for a community meeting with Christus Health leaders for further enlightenment of the future plans for the Good Shepherd-Marshall campus.

This community has deep passion and a deeper concern for those in need, and there is opportunity in discussing what the community and Good Shepherd can do together to provide for quality health care in Harrison County.

We strongly believe in a local hospital, and a hospital is truly one of the keys to the health of a community. It is that important to the future of Marshall and the health care for our citizens.



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