Medical

CHIPPEWA FALLS — Women won’t be able to have their babies delivered at the hospital in Chippewa Falls as part of cutbacks announced Thursday by the group that runs HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Illinois-based Hospital Sisters Health System is cutting about 10% of its workforce across its 15 hospitals in Illinois and Wisconsin, according to a statement from the organization.

In the Chippewa Valley, the cutbacks are resulting in the closure of the Women and Infants Center at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital. This ends inpatient care for women and infants at the hospital, but prenatal appointments and childbirth classes will remain available in Chippewa Falls.

The nearest hospitals for delivering babies are located in Eau Claire, Menomonie, Barron, Rice Lake and Ladysmith.

Another change to the operations at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital is turning its intensive care unit into a progressive care unit.

This new unit is for patients who don’t require intensive care, but still need closer monitoring and nursing assessments than they would have on a general care floor.

Patients requiring round-the-clock care and monitoring found in an ICU will be transferred to HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire.

The statement from HSHS did not list any specific changes to services and departments offered at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital.

Layoffs announced Thursday came after the hospital group experienced financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic that began in mid-March.

“Earlier this year, the pandemic shifted how patients preferred or were allowed to use their local healthcare services, and HSHS saw a significant decline in the number of patients coming to our facilities,” read the statement from HSHS.

The resulting financial blow led HSHS to furlough employees and reduce executives’ pay. When hospitals began allowing elective procedures again, patient counts rebounded and most of the employees who had been furloughed were brought back to work.

“However, we are unable to bring back all of these furloughed colleagues,” HSHS stated.

Providing for a strong, stable future for HSHS during this unpredictable pandemic led to the difficult decision to layoff 10% of its workforce, according to the statement.

HSHS did not provide the number of employees at local hospitals that were included in Thursday’s layoffs.