LEWIS COUNTY, N.Y. (WWTI) — Lewis County Health System is combining its efforts with Samaritan Medical Center to support expecting moms in Lewis County and the surrounding communities.

The New York State Department of Health’s vaccine mandate created a shortage of healthcare workers across the state, which included many labor, delivery, and postpartum nurses at Lewis County General Hospital’s Maternity Unit. As a result, the hospital announced on September 25 that they would be putting a pause on deliveries.

The Lewis County Health System Chief Executive Officer Gerald R. Cayer said the decision to pause delivery services wasn’t an easy one to make.

“Our team has had the privilege of delivering babies in Lewis County for the past 90 years, so the decision to ‘pause’ deliveries is difficult,” Cayer said. “We are working hard to make this ‘pause’ a temporary situation as we diligently work to recruit additional labor and delivery nurses who are vaccinated, ensuring we can provide the safest and highest level of care for expecting moms and babies.”

On October 1 Lewis County Health System announced the new partnership on their Facebook page. According to the post, the partnership will provide expecting moms with the best resources from both facilities.

Pre-natal and post-natal care will be provided by the patient’s obstetrician in Lowville and Samaritan Medical Center’s Car-Freshner Center for Women and Children will deliver the babies. Once obstetrical patients are 32 to 36 weeks pregnant they will be asked to transition to a physician at Samaritan to prepare for the delivery of their babies.

OB/GYN at LCHS Women’s Health Services Dr. F. Lee Dutton said she was thankful that their patients could receive the care they need at Samaritan Medical Center.

“The hospital administration has made a firm commitment to restoring full obstetric and gynecologic services as soon as safe staffing levels are achieved at our facility,” Dutto said. “My colleagues and I are extremely grateful to Dr. John Barrett and his associates at SMC for graciously offering to welcome any of our patients who require OB services in the near term.”

Lewis County Health System has developed similar memorandums of understanding with the Mohawk Valley Health System in Utica and Carthage Area Hospital.