"We are a small community hospital," says Ann Reid, physician relations coordinator for Heart. "We are not going to be for every single individual but it's going to be a high-touch, a different experience than a patient would have at Hershey, at Reading Hospital, at Women & Babies."
But local OB/GYNs say they take into consideration other factors as well.
OB-GYN of Lancaster's 10 doctors and eight nurse midwives deliver about 1,800 babies a year at Women & Babies, where it has an office in an adjoining building.
The practice has a nurse midwife and a physician attending deliveries, which means it would have to have a team of two providers on call at Heart, says Dennis Hertz, practice administrator.
"Our practice is so busy ... we just don't feel it's in the patient's best interest to try and duplicate that at the current time," he says.
OB-GYN of Lancaster's physicians will perform elective gynecological surgeries, such as hysterectomies, at the new hospital, Hertz says.
May Grant Associates, the county's other large practice, also has no plans to deliver babies at the new hospital, says practice administrator Shelvy Frank, although it too will perform elective surgeries should a woman request to go to Heart.
The group has nine doctors, eight midwives and three nurse practitioners and delivers around 2,000 babies a year.
Frank says the practice would be hesitant to deliver at a hospital without a neonatal intensive care unit, which the new hospital will not have. The hospital will have a helipad for transfers to other hospitals that have NICUs.
Dr. Paul Visneski is one of May Grant's OB/GYNs. He delivered babies at the former Community Hospital for 15 years, but when the hospital closed its maternity unit, his practice merged with May Grant.
Visneski says he doesn't think patients will bring business to Heart, as its officials are hoping. He says HMA doesn't understand the health care market here.
"What HMA is thinking is, you build a hospital and patients and doctors are going to go to it because it's new," he says. "I don't think it's going to happen. The area is saturated with good medical care as it is."
Even Community acknowledged that when it got out of the baby business. It briefly suspended its plans to build The Women's Place last year, citing the success of Women & Babies and the county's aging population. It reversed its position four months later, saying patients and doctors wanted the center to go forward.
Frank says May Grant also simply doesn't know much about how the unit will be set up or staffed.
Several practices echo that and add they have had little contact from the new hospital or its recruiters, a fact that mystifies some.
"They haven't approached us," says Loretta Krum, practice manager for Lancaster Physicians for Women, which delivers about 250 babies a year.
"They've never promoted their center to us. We've received no information from Heart of Lancaster other than a one-page letter that they're opening," says Dr. Stephen Diamantoni of Diamantoni & Associates, which delivers about 250 babies a year.
"We know very little about the services that are going to be offered in their labor and delivery section," he adds. "Hospitals generally have marketed new service lines more aggressively than it appears the Heart of Lancaster hospital is doing with their OB service."
Christenson says the hospital is still approaching practices. Reid adds that doctors want to see the new facility, and that tours are taking place now.
Some physicians are leaving the door open about what they would do. Diamantoni says his practice would consider delivering babies at the new hospital.
"I think it will depend on the volume of patients who have an interest and the number of insurers who offer that option," he says.
Heart officials say they want local OB/GYNs to deliver at the new hospital but they may recruit new doctors if that doesn't happen.
"Our preference is to do it with local doctors," Christenson says. "We don't want to bring in additional competition if we don't have to do that.
"We feel very confident there will be a number of patients who want to select our hospital ... and that will influence what physicians decide." – less–ZoomInfo