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OSF Healthcare will reopen the birthing center at its Danville Sacred Heart hospital, and close the one at Urbana Heart of Mary

OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center President J.T. Barnhart talks with reporters about plans to close his hospitals birthing center and reopen the one at the OSF hospital in Danville.

URBANA – Pending regulatory approval, OSF Healthcare will reopen the birthing unit at its Danville hospital — while the birthing center at its Urbana hospital will close.

The birthing center at OSF Sacred Heart Medical Center in Danville closed last October. Hospital officials cited staff shortages as the reason for what they said would be a temporary closure.

Now, J-T Barnhart, the president of OSF’s Urbana hospital, Heart of Mary Medical Center, says the need for obstetrics care is actually greater in Danville than in the Champaign-Urbana area. So, he says his hospital’s Blessed Beginnings Birthing Center will close, and its staff encouraged to transfer to Danville. The change is expected to happen sometime in September.

“It’s definitely needed for our team that has been staffing our labor and delivery program to be realigned, reallocated to Sacred Heart in Danville, to be able to reestablish that program,” said Barnhart. “From a need perspective, it just made the most sense.”

Unlike the closing of the Danville birthing center last year, OSF intends for the closing of the birthing center at its Urbana hospital to be permanent — provided the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board approves the change

Even with the closing of the birthing center at Heart of Mary, Barnhart says the Champaign-Urbana area will still have a surplus of patient beds for labor and delivery, thanks to birthing care provided at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana and Gibson Area Hospital in Gibson City.

The number of births at OSF Heart of Mary has dropped since 2021, when doctors at Christie Clinic opted to work only with Carle Hospital for its OB/GYN patients, ending its affiliation with OSF Heart of Mary in that area of medicine.

“Last year, we did a little under 150 (births),” said Barnhart. “That compares to about 400 the year before. This year, we’re doing the same, under 200.”

Barnhart, who took over as president of OSF Heart of Mary in February, says he’s open to reestablishing a relationship with Christie Clinic.

“I’ve only been here in this role for a couple of months,” said Barnhart, “but have had some meetings with leadership and some physicians at Christie. So yes, as far as provider relationships reestablishing, it’s a huge goal of OSF.”

Meanwhile, patients in the Champaign-Urbana area who wish to stay with an OSF hospital will be directed to OSF’s Sacred Heart Medical Center in Danville and the OSF St Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington.

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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