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Sharp Co. has prenatal care options, but limited

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BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Some Sharp County expectant mothers said they cannot find the local prenatal care they need.

These moms said they often drive at least an hour away for care.

However, there are two options for expectant mothers in the county.

One is the Sharp County Health Unit that helps low income patients apply for Medicaid and find OB/GYN care.

The other is Dr. David Taylor, an OB/GYN who works twice a month at the White River Medical Center (WRMC) complex in Cherokee Village. 

"To provide any service, to have quality outcomes, you would have to have a certain number of deliveries or a certain number of clientele," WRMC women's services director Jennifer Dorris said. "And currently that volume is not there in Sharp County."

Dorris said it may be inconvenient to travel for prenatal care, but there are not enough patients in Sharp County to keep a facility going.

To put it in perspective, doctors at WRMC delivered about 750 babies last year. Dorris said the facility can maintain its prenatal services because it does have enough patients.

"Just to have enough qualified staff, you want that many deliveries in order to have trained and qualified people," Dorris said.

However, Dorris said there are still current, closer options, like Dr. Taylor in Cherokee Village.

"He does just an outreach clinic," Dorris said. "He follows people prenatally there so that they don't have to drive into Batesville for all of those biweekly visits."

Dr. Taylor is available every other Wednesday at the WRMC complex in Cherokee Village. Dorris said when expectant mothers are in their final trimester and need to see a doctor every week, they could split time between Batesville and Cherokee Village.

"She could be seen biweekly there so then that would only make her drive every other week," Dorris said.

However, moms still have to go to larger facilities like WRMC to deliver their babies.

"When you choose to live in a rural area, I mean, that is something you would have to consider," Dorris said. "Just as I choose to live in Batesville, they choose to live in Sharp County. So I would just know that is one of the obstacles of living in a rural area."

Dorris said choosing an OB/GYN is a very personal choice. Dorris said she is not trying to tell Sharp County expectant mothers what to do. She just wants to let them know they do have some options.

"I do have a vested interest in that area," Dorris said. "I'm a native of Sharp County and I graduated high school from there, so I do want the women of Sharp County to know that we do provide good, quality obstetrical care."

Dorris said WRMC offers prenatal and breastfeeding classes to groups of at least three moms. If Sharp County moms express their interest, Dorris said WRMC employees will bring these classes to them. 

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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