RUMFORD — Rumford Hospital will end its maternity services March 31, officials from parent company Central Maine Healthcare announced Thursday.

“A number of factors played into the decision to close the service, including a declining birth rate, a severe and persistent shortage of obstetricians willing to practice in an area with so few deliveries, and the pressing need for a more consistent plan for women’s health care in the Rumford region,” officials said in a press release.

“This was an extremely difficult, but necessary decision to make,” said Steve Littleson, CMH’s president and CEO and interim president of Rumford and Bridgton hospitals.

Births at the hospital have been declining since at least 2017, according to figures provided by CMH spokesperson Jim Cyr. In 2017, there were 100 births at the hospital. Last year, there were 54 births, a nearly 50% decline.

Obstetric patients from Rumford Hospital will be able to deliver babies at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, about 42 miles away. Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway and Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington also offer maternity services. Both hospitals are part of the Maine Health network.

Family practitioners and a certified nurse midwife will continue to provide prenatal care at Rumford Hospital. There will be no staff cuts.


The Oxford County hospital opened its maternity unit in 1926, according to the release. “This will certainly mark the end of an era here in the Rumford area,” said Stephany Jacques, the hospital’s vice president of nursing and patient care services.

The 25-bed critical access hospital is the latest to end its maternity services. St. Mary’s Health System in Lewiston closed its maternity and women’s health service line in July 2022. Most of its 50-person staff moved to Central Maine Medical Center, the hospital said when it announced the news last May.

“It’s a very difficult day,” Dr. Douglas Smith, St. Mary’s chief medical officer, told the Sun Journal.

CMMC’s maternity unit experienced its own staffing challenges during the pandemic, which forced the hospital to close its special care nursery in October 2021. The unit reopened last June; since then, the hospital has expanded its maternity offerings, according to the release.

In September 2021, CMH’s other critical access hospital, Bridgton Hospital, ended its obstetrics program. When then-division CEO Peter Wright made the announcement in June, the northern Cumberland County hospital was already on diversion. The only obstetrician on staff was on leave and without any obstetrical surgeon on call for emergency cesarean sections, the hospital was required by law to notify local emergency medical services and fire departments that all cases should go to CMMC.

CMH officials said at the time that low birth volume, financial challenges and staffing shortages promoted the decision.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.