Transition is a matter of everyday life, and in these times, transition can have tremendous impact. The announcement just before Christmas that CHRISTUS Good Shepherd – Marshall is moving their labor, delivery and mother/baby services to Longview is such an impact. With this move, there will be no more babies born here in Marshall. Since 1909, local residents have had the assurance of a local hospital to take care of mother and baby here. This means that when a Marshall-area mom-to-be goes into labor, she’d better hope there’s not too much traffic between here and a hospital room that will actually care for her. And if you live in Waskom, it is a longer drive.

The decision, according to the press release, was made because there has been a “significant decrease” in the number of deliveries performed in the area due to a shrinking and aging population. We wonder what the birth numbers have been per year over the past 10 years. Are they down so much that maternity services need to be transferred to Longview? There are still families who live here. Babies are still being born in Harrison County.

The Marshall hospital has an updated, $1.5 million kitchen, along with new 3D mammography, monitoring equipment and landscaping. These are all fine improvements. But taking away maternity services – the one area of a hospital where life actually begins – seems like a sign that the end is coming. Probably not tomorrow, or even in 2018, but it definitely doesn’t bode well for the overall health of our hospital.

We know some of this is due to reimbursements and Obamacare reducing the amount of payments to rural hospitals. We don’t like this trend and we fear this will mean more and more services will be moved from rural hospitals to larger, more regional health care facilities.

The end result is if you live in a rural area, you better pray you can make the long drive to the hospital for life-giving care. And hope the roads are clear and weather is good for driving.

For the betterment of the community, it is time for local citizens, Marshall City Commissioners, MISD leaders, Harrison County Commissioners, State Sen. Bryan Hughes and State Rep. Chris Paddie, the Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce, local churches and other civic organizations ask for a community meeting with CHRISTUS Good Shepherd corporate leaders for further enlightenment of the future plans for the GSMC campus.

This community has deep passion and a deeper concern for those in need, and there is opportunity in discussing what the community and GSMC can do together to provide for quality healthcare in Harrison County.

We strongly believe in a local hospital, and a hospital is truly one of the keys to the health of a community. It is that important to the future of Marshall and the health care for our citizens.