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Windham Hospital waiting on state approval to close its maternity ward

In a public hearing last summer, Hartford HealthCare officials pointed to low birth rates as one of the few reasons for the closure.

WINDHAM, Conn. — Windham Hospital is seeking to officially close its maternity ward, citing low birth rates as one of the many reasons.

Residents pushed back on this move and said this is dangerous to pregnant mothers. 

A Certificate of Need was presented by Hartford Healthcare to the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy at Wednesday's public hearing. 

The letter requested official approval to close the maternity ward at Windham Hospital. 

If approved, pregnant mothers would have to give birth either at Backus Hospital in Norwich or Manchester Memorial Hospital. Both hospitals are at least 20 to 30 minutes away from Windham

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Residents in town are up in arms about this change. 

"The fact that we are losing services in our hospital degrades our city. It's degrading and it's uncivilized and the reasoning is audacious. It's based on greed," said Rose Reyes of Willimantic. 

In a public hearing last summer, Hartford HealthCare officials pointed to low birth rates as one of the few reasons for the closure.

Other reasons included: resignations during COVID and retirements. 

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"We had another retirement from our OB-GYN staff and then further decrease in our physician coverage so it became very clear and looking at the 31 births between January and June that we could no longer sustain this program," said Donna Handley, senior vice president of Hartford HealthCare. 

There were close to 400 births in 2011, according to Hartford HealthCare, but last year it dropped drastically to 93.

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The decision to end delivery and labor services at Windham Hospital will be up to the occupational health and safety officer. 

Those who have given birth at Windham Hospital refused to let this go through. 

"They don't live here! They don't have a sense of -- first of all, childbirth is a mother's business. The medical people are assistants in this process. The course of a mother giving birth is in the hands of a mother," said Brenda Buchbinder of Willimantic. 

Hartford HealthCare was not able to offer FOX61 a comment Thursday since the request is still under review by the state.

Carmen Chau is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at cchau@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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