By The Star Staff
The crisis in the hospital sector, punctuated by the Grupo HIMA system bankruptcy, continues on the island.
The Damas Hospital in Ponce has asked the Puerto Rico Department of Health’s permission to shut down its four delivery rooms and services to pregnant women as early as Feb. 3, said the institution’s chief executive, Pedro Barez Clavell.
The news comes amid a significant drop in the number of births and legislation giving couples an incentive to have children, according to a radio report.
The request to cease obstetrics services in Damas’ four delivery rooms comes “after an extensive analysis of all the factors that affect the reduction of births, a phenomenon not exclusive to our hospital, nor to the island, [that] it is unsustainable for us to keep this service open,” Barez Clavell said.
Information provided by the hospital and by the media indicates that births in Puerto Rico have fallen by 49.5% in the past 10 years.
“At Damas Hospital the reduction in births over the past 10 years is approximately 70%,” the hospital indicated. “In 2012, 1,520 children were born in hospital wards compared to 452 births in 2023. Births in Puerto Rico plummeted in 2023, with a figure of 17,772, its lowest level since records were kept [starting] in 1888, and less than half of those reported 10 years ago [in 2013], 36,580, according to recent data.”
The information sent to the Health Department and the Office of the Patient Advocate for the closure said that pregnant women will be treated in the emergency room or sent to San Lucas Hospital, also in Ponce.
The staff is expected to be relocated.
The news comes at a time when the island has seen the bankruptcy of hospitals including San Jorge Children’s Hospital in Santurce and the Grupo HIMA hospital system.