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Obstetrics at Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen Hospital closes after almost 100 years | hessenschau.de

From July 1st, pregnant women in Frankfurt will have one fewer stop for the birth of their child. Then the DGD Hospital Sachsenhausen closes its obstetrics department. A decision that more and more hospitals in Hesse are making.

From
Malena Menke

Audio contribution

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00:39 mins

Sachsenhausen Hospital closes maternity ward


A newborn baby lies on the mother's stomach.

End of audio contribution

Pregnant women have been giving birth to their babies in the DGD Hospital Sachsenhausen for almost 100 years – but that will soon come to an end. From July 1st, the German Community Diakonie Association (DGD) will close the maternity ward in the house. The management announced this on Monday.

“We don’t have enough births to be able to run this department economically,” explained managing director Hubertus Jaeger. You feel forced to make this decision. The department with around 600 births per year is simply no longer profitable. It was a bitter decision, “which also takes an emotional toll,” said Jaeger.

Despite the closure, no one will be laid off. According to the management, doctors and nurses at the ward will receive job offers in other departments. The hospital has also found cooperation partners for its midwives who want to offer them work.

Pregnant women should be accommodated in a neighboring hospital

The employee representatives want to ensure that the promised offers come. “We will make the best of it,” said its chairman, Steffen Paul. Although the decision is sad, he says: “The solution is the best that could be found in the end.”

In the future, pregnant women will be accommodated in the neighboring Holy Spirit Hospital. There they feel prepared to handle even more births: “We have both the human resources and the premises that are necessary for this,” said managing director Manuel Zelle to the hr.

Some employees from the DGD Hospital Sachsenhausen will also receive offers from the Hospital of the Holy Spirit.

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“Obstetric care has been structurally underfunded for years.”
Hubertus Jaeger, Managing Director of Sachsenhausen Hospital Hubertus Jaeger, Managing Director of Sachsenhausen Hospital

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Obstetrics has a long tradition at Sachsenhausen Hospital: 81,000 children have been born there since 1927. The fact that the maternity ward was closed is largely due to the federal government’s hospital reform, explained Jaeger. The management believes that the Sachsenhausen Hospital would no longer receive a state contract for obstetric care as a result of the reform.

Economic efficiency is another factor, Jaeger told the hr: “Obstetric care has been structurally underfunded for years.” Obstetric care only covers costs when there are 1,300 to 1,500 births per year. The Sachsenhausen hospital recently had fewer than 800 births. The Hospital of the Holy Spirit currently has around 900 births per year.

Most births – even in Germany – took place in the Frankfurt Citizens’ Hospital in 2023: more than 4,000 women gave birth to their babies there.

Fewer and fewer births

Fewer and fewer children are being born in Germany. Currently it’s numbers lower than it has been in 15 years more. In Frankfurt, too, with 11,809 births, around five percent fewer children were born in 2023 than in 2022.

The decline in birth rates is a problem for hospitals. In order to provide obstetric care around the clock, a minimum number of specialists, midwives and nursing staff are required. In order to finance it, there must be a certain number of births in the respective hospital so that it is worthwhile: the Hessian Hospital Society assumes at least 800 to 1,000 per year.

Many hospitals have also recently experienced inflation. “In order not to risk the entire location, we first separate ourselves from the ‘uneconomical departments’ – i.e. the obstetric departments,” commented the HKG on the recent closure in Frankfurt.

Wave of closures in Hesse’s maternity wards

The Sachsenhausen Hospital in Hesse is not alone in its decision to no longer offer obstetric care. Such closures have repeatedly made headlines and sparked discussions in recent years. Around the beginning of 2023, when The maternity ward in the Lahn-Dill Clinics in Dillenburg was closed due to a lack of staff.

There was a whole wave of closures in 2019: At that time, the Diakonie Hospital Marburg, the Marienhospital Darmstadt, the Heiliggeist Hospital Bensheim and the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria Hospital Ehringshausen as well as the St. Elisabeth Hospital in Volkmarsen closed their maternity wards. The Agaplesion Markus Hospital in Marburg closed in 2018.

This meant more work for other houses. The maternity ward in Frankenberg, for example, now has to accommodate more and more births, says the head of gynecology, Dr. Volker Assmann. The reason is the many closures all around – for example in Biedenkopf, Wehrda, Dillenburg, Volkmarsen, Bad Arolsen and Winterberg.

Focus on obesity and diabetes treatment

Instead of obstetrics, the DGD Sachsenhausen Hospital wants to strengthen other areas in the future. “Among other things, it is important to further develop the priorities for which our hospital is known far beyond the borders of Frankfurt,” said the management. “We are the oldest diabetes clinic in Europe with multi-award-winning and certified diabetology.”

Other key areas include the obesity center, interventional radiology, general internal medicine, general surgery, central emergency room and gynecology.

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