South Fulton Medical to stop delivering babies, lay off 80

South Fulton Medical Center will close its women's program — including labor and delivery rooms, the mother/baby unit and the neonatal ICU — and eliminate 80 positions, the hospital's owner announced this week.

Baby deliveries have been declining nationwide as well as at the East Point hospital, which will cease deliveries after July 26.

"This decision is based on continued reimbursement decreases for this program that make it difficult for smaller hospitals with lower volumes to operate this service line," Tenet Healthcare Corp., the hospital's owner, said in a statement.

Tenet declined further comment. Its statement added, though, that the hospital and its physicians will help pregnant mothers transition to other Atlanta hospitals. Laid-off employees also will "be given the opportunity to apply for appropriate open positions" at South Fulton, Atlanta Medical Center and other Tenet facilities.

The 338-bed South Fulton Medical Center was in bankruptcy in 2001 when bought by Tenet. It has continued to lose money — millions of dollars annually, according to reports filed with the state.

"It's a loss to the community, and I think we will see the difference once it is closed," Dr. Precious Braswell, an obstetrician, told Channel 2 Action News. "A lot of the young ladies who live in the area may not have the transportation or the will to go downtown or go further south."