St. Bernard Hospital in Englewood. Credit: PROVIDED.

ENGLEWOOD — Expectant mothers being treated at St. Bernard Hospital will have to go out of the neighborhood to deliver their babies for the near future.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise on the Southwest Side, the hospital, 326 W. 64th St., has suspended its inpatient obstetrics unit until further notice, hospital officials said.

The 60621 zip code — which includes St. Bernard — has seen a steady increase of confirmed coronavirus cases, forcing the hospital to repurpose other spaces to care for the influx of patients and devote the OB unit to those who aren’t infected with coronavirus, according to a spokesperson for the hospital.

The OB unit now will be used to treat non-COVID medical and surgical patients who need immediate care, according to hospital officials.

The hospital has handled an average of 30 coronavirus patients daily since mid-March, and more than 300 overall. The number includes those who have been treated and released, or passed away.

“Since we opened, St. Bernard has taken great pride in helping families bring new lives into our world,” hospital President and CEO Charles Holland said. “This was not an easy decision, but we believe these actions will provide the safest environment for expectant mothers, infants, families and our staff. We greatly appreciate everyone’s understanding of our need to take this action at this time.”

St. Bernard’s Women’s Wellness Clinic will continue to provide prenatal care. Administrators have worked out an agreement with Bronzeville’s Mercy Hospital, 2525 S. Michigan Ave., to transfer patients from the clinic once they’re ready to deliver.

Mothers-to-be who arrive to the hospital while in labor can still receive medical screenings until the transfer. Depending on the stage of pregnancy, those who are COVID-19 positive will receive standard treatment, and those facing imminent delivery will be stabilized using all necessary precautions before mother and baby are transferred to Mercy.    

Though St. Bernard isn’t an official COVID-19 testing site, people can be tested if they have a referral from their physician.

St. Bernard is one of four South Side hospitals planning to merge into one unified healthcare system later this year.

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