Frisbie Hospital’s plan to send baby deliveries to Portsmouth OKd by AG

$2.75m settlement with Greater Rochester Community Health Foundation ends review of decision to end services

Frisbie Memorial Hospital 2

A $2.75 million settlement will allow Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester to move forward with its plan to discontinue labor and delivery of babies services, shifting births to Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

Portsmouth Regional Hospital, like Frisbie, is owned by HCA Healthcare.

Frisbie has now become the 11th New Hampshire hospital since 2000 to shut down labor and delivery units, most of them in the northern and central parts of the state. But the two most recent closings have taken place in Derry, where Parkland Medical Center stopped offering the services in 2020, and now Frisbie. The free-standing Concord Birth Center also plans to close this year, according to the New Hampshire Bulletin.

The agreement with the AG’s office leaves 15 hospitals and six free-standing clinics delivering babies in the state.

There are a total of 26 acute care hospitals in the state.

The agreement, announced by Attorney General John Formella, calls for the Greater Rochester Community Health Foundation to receive $2.75 million “in support of its mission to improve the health and well-being of people residing in the Greater Rochester community, with $750,000 in new funds to address critical public health needs in the greater Rochester community,” according to the statement released by Formella.

As a result, the foundation “has withdrawn its objection to the decision to cease offering labor and delivery services at the hospital,” the announcement states.

The announcement does not state specifically how the $2.75 million will be spent. It states GRCHF will make available the processes by which organizations working to help improve the health and well-being of residents in Strafford County may apply for grants.

The AG launched a review into Frisbie’s decision last summer to end its labor and delivery services despite an agreement reached in February 2020 to continue those services for at least five years after it was acquired by HCA Healthcare for $67 million.

According to that agreement, the hospital would have to “show proof of extreme financial loss/disadvantage” in order to justify discontinuing labor and delivery services. The AG said when the review began last year that he was not satisfied such proof has been provided by Frisbie.

In a press release announcing the settlement, Formella said it “will provide an immediate infusion of resources to help ensure that members of the Greater Rochester community can continue to access these vital services.”

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