LAURENS COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Labor and delivery services have been “paused” at one Upstate hospital due to shortages of OBGYN physicians.

According to Prisma Health, Prisma Health Laurens County Hospital will temporarily shift labor and deliveries to Prisma Health’s Patewood Memorial Hospital in Greenville beginning Monday.

Officials said this is due to short-term shortages of OB/GYN physicians at the Laurens County Hospital.

Carolina Women’s Center in Laurens County will remain open for routine gynecologic care.

Officials said patients will continue prenatal appointments at that office as well as have their routine GYN visits.

“We are actively recruiting additional OB/GYN physicians to bring back deliveries to Laurens County Hospital. In the meantime, we have plans in place to ensure our patients are cared for effectively, efficiently and safely during this paus. We’re incredibly proud of our mom-baby unit here at Laurens County Hospital and look forward to re-opening it. This temporary pause is the right medical decision to allow us to provide efficient care as we add new physicians to meet the needs of our growing population.”

Justin Benfield, CEO of Laurens County Hospital and Hillcrest Hospital

Prisma Health is also planning to assist with transportation if needed.

A report by the South Carolina Office for Healthcare Workforce shows there has been a lack of available OBGYN physicians in Laurens County for years. In 2019, there were three OBGYN physicians who had a primary practice in the county and two who had a secondary practice in the county, according to the report.

“It leaves a lot of rural folks with limited choices other than traveling to the city for a pretty narrow scope of care,” Carey Glenn, a certified professional midwife and licensed midwife, said.

Glenn said many hospitals in rural areas have had to stop performing deliveries due to a lack of resources.

“Some folks definitely have to travel more than an hour,” she said.

Glenn women who live far from their hospitals often have to schedule and induce their births.

“Trying to time the arrival around a distance is extremely challenging,” she explained. “For the most part, what that turns into for a large majority of people is a high induction rate which comes with a cascade of interventions.”