Saint Luke’s Announces New Hybrid Model to Preserve Maternity Care in North Central Missouri

CHILLICOTHE, MO – Saint Luke’s Health System is implementing a new hybrid obstetrical model to preserve high-quality maternity care in North Central Missouri, effective June 30, 2023.

Hedrick Medical Center (HMC) will continue to provide nearly all pre- and post-natal care for patients at its Hedrick OB/GYN Associates Clinic, led by Medical Director and OB-GYN Ankur Agrawal, MD. Mothers will deliver at Saint Luke’s North Hospital—Barry Road, where Dr. Agrawal will be joining the labor and delivery rotation. Gynecologic procedures will continue to be offered at Hedrick Medical Center.

Dr. Agrawal, an OB-GYN with Hedrick Medical Center, has been serving Chillicothe, Trenton, and the surrounding 10 counties since 2017.

“Since moving to the area six years ago, I have grown to care deeply for this community and for my patients,” Dr. Agrawal said. “My top priority — and the priority of Saint Luke’s — is to provide safe, compassionate, quality care for the women of North Central Missouri. I look forward to continuing to serve in this new capacity.”

Once the model takes effect, inpatient maternity services will close, and routine deliveries will cease at Hedrick Medical Center. This action will affect approximately 15 labor and delivery nurses and ancillary staff, all of whom will be eligible and encouraged to apply for alternate positions at Hedrick Medical Center, Wright Memorial Hospital, or within Saint Luke’s Health System.

A nationwide shortage of OB-GYNs has created a highly competitive market for qualified specialists, making it extremely difficult to attract OB-GYNs to rural areas such as Chillicothe, despite dedicated, multi-year recruitment efforts. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) projects a shortage of 22,000 OB-GYNs by 2050.

This new approach is designed to prioritize and protect maternity care in north central Missouri and prevent the increase of “maternity deserts” emerging across the state. A maternity desert is part of an alarming trend seen nationally in rural areas and other regions without OB-GYN care. Today, 47% of Missouri counties have no access to obstetric care of any kind, including many of the counties around Hedrick Medical Center. Saint Luke’s has met with Missouri lawmakers and state health officials to bring awareness to this worsening heath crisis and to bring about meaningful action.

“We’ve been working diligently to find a solution to this intractable problem because Saint Luke’s Health System and Hedrick Medical Center are deeply dedicated to our patients and families in North Central Missouri,” said Julie Quirin, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Saint Luke’s Health System. “With this approach, area moms and moms-to-be will receive 95% of their maternity care close to home with a physician and team they know and trust.”

Located 90 miles southwest of Chillicothe, Saint Luke’s North’s maternity program, which includes a Level II NICU, is recognized by Blue Cross Blue Shield as a Blue Distinction Center and by the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services as a Show Me 5 maternity hospital. It is also designated a Baby-Friendly hospital for its commitment to breastfeeding.

Hedrick OB/GYN clinic staff will be contacting impacted patients directly to discuss and prepare for this transition.

Read the full March of Dimes report on the growing issue of maternity care deserts across the U.S. 

Saint Luke's Health System is a faith-based, not-for-profit organization with 14 hospitals and campuses and more than 200 primary care and specialty clinics, treating patients in 65 specialty services across 67 counties in Missouri and Kansas. Saint Luke’s has cared for Kansas City and surrounding communities for more than 140 years and is committed to the highest levels of excellence in health care and the advancement of medical research and education. Follow Saint Luke’s: Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram LinkedIn