April 22, 2024
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Recent CBS news segments on 60 Minutes and CBS News discussed options for labor and delivery in the Texas Panhandle. The segments focused on a woman in Pampa scheduled to deliver her child in Amarillo, a 60-mile drive.

Among others, CBS interviewed Jeff Barnhart, an administrator at Hereford Regional Medical Center.

“A lot of rural hospitals are getting out of delivering babies. It’s just so expensive,” he said.

The hospital in Muleshoe used to deliver babies, according to Dennis Fleenor, MAMC hospital administrator.

“We delivered here up until the early 2000s,” he said. “Dr. Bruce Purdy actually delivered over 3,000 babies in Muleshoe. However, as a hospital we chose not to continue. The risk and the cost of delivery far outweigh the benefits.”

According to www.distance-cities.com, the distance from Muleshoe to Hereford is 48 minutes. Another option might be Lamb Life Choice Pregnancy Center in Littlefield, 30 minutes, or University Medical Center in Lubbock, 63 minutes.

“We usually refer moms to Lubbock,” Fleenor said. “UMC is more accustomed to taking care of unfunded people. Of course, when people have insurance and have been set up with an ob/gyn, then it’s not an issue.”

Clovis, N.M., a city of almost 39,000, is only 36 minutes from Muleshoe. However, Clovis does not take Texas Medicaid.

In an emergency, MAMC will deliver a baby.

“We have delivered a couple, but only because the head was already crowning,” Fleenor said. “It doesn’t happen very often. We’ve only had two in the last six years,”

In both cases, people were traveling to Lubbock, but got about as far as the railroad tracks at Farwell, 22 minutes away. Emergency personnel at MAMC delivered the babies, got mother and baby stabilized and had them transferred.

Gail M. Williams

Muleshoe Journal Correspondent


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