Providence Health officials will be part of a 6 p.m. public forum tonight to discuss the healthcare provider's controversial decision to close down the obstetrics program at Redwood Memorial Hospital and shift all deliveries 20 miles north to St. Joseph Hospital.
It's the second time in less than a decade that the hospital system overseeing the Fortuna location, which has seen more than one generation of some Humboldt families born there, has discussed shutting down the maternity services.
Under an agreement with the California Attorney General's Office, which approved the 2016 merger between St. Joseph Health Care and Providence, the system was obligated to retain maternity service at Redwood Memorial for five years.
A similar move proposed back in 2013 was also met with strong objections, especially from the southern portions of the county, with concerns raised about potential risks to mothers and babies due to extended travel times those who live in the outer reaches of the county would face going to Eureka, especially if there was an emergency.
At the time, more than 1,500 people signed a petition calling for the maternity center and OB services to remain at Redwood Memorial. A petition currently being circulated has more than 4,000 signatures.