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Minnesota's oldest hospital won't deliver babies anymore

Its maternity services are ending in the fall.

St. Joseph's Hospital in downtown St. Paul was founded back in 1853, and the medical center says it's "proud to hold the distinction as Minnesota's first hospital."

But early this fall, it will no longer do planned delivery of babies.

HealthEast St. Joseph's maternity services are ending effective Sept. 10, the hospital said in a news release.

They'll be admitting expectant mothers through Sept. 7, then the entire unit will shut down three days later.

(Of note: Federal law requires any hospital with an emergency room to treat a woman in labor and deliver the baby – ProPublica has more about that.)

Why it's closing

The hospital says more women are having their children at other facilities, including its HealthEast/Fairview partners St. John’s and Woodwinds (the two systems merged earlier this year). 

Projections show that trend will continue, with more moms-to-be heading to those spots – and fewer opting for St. John's, the hospital's Vice President Medical Affairs John Kvasnicka, MD, said in the release.

And getting consistent patient numbers is key to operating "effectively and efficiently," said Deb Hurd, vice president and chief nursing officer. 

Since they don't anticipate any uptick or improvement for St. Joseph's it made the most sense to shut down the maternity services.

Kvasnicka called it "not an easy decision," but said investing in the hospitals that are seeing more growth will help them provide top-level care.

If you were planning to deliver at St. Joseph's, the hospital says it hopes you'll consider another HealthEast/Fairview location. You can also call your doctor or midwife, or check this page for another contact.

Other options in the Twin Cities

In St. Paul directly, Regions Hospital and United Hospital remain as two of the higher-profile birthing options. 

This guide from Baby Love lays out some of the differences between each, as well as other hospitals in the Twin Cities area. 

But there are also independent birth centers or home birth options, as Minnesota Parent has pointed out.

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