Mitchell, Yancey residents hold healthcare vigil over maternity wards closing

Photo: WLOS

Labor and delivery services are officially done at Blue Ridge Hospital in Yancey County.

Mission Health voted on the decision back in July, citing low birth totals and a lack of 24/7 surgical coverage.

The closure was marked by a candlelight vigil hosted by a group of concerned residents.

"It's a very very sad time for our community, for our mothers, for our future in Mitchell and Yancey Counties," said Susan Larson, one of the vigil's organizers.

Rebecca Surratt had her last appointment with her OB/GYN on Friday, just a day before the closure became effective.

"I'm used to one person and one person only," said Surratt. "Now I have to deal with a different doctor that I don't know."

Surratt plans on delivering her baby, due on October 27, at Mission Hospital in Asheville, but worries about the drive of more than an hour.

"I didn't know nothing about it until after I got pregnant, and the doctor said 'Well, we're closing Spruce Pine,'" said Surratt. "Now I have to go all the way to Asheville if I start having contractions or anything like I have been having."

She delivered her first two children at Blue Ridge Hospital, and was born there herself as well.

Like Surratt, Velma Sturgill delivered her son at Blue Ridge Hospital. And she herself was one of the first babies delivered at the hospital in 1956.

"I was one of the first babies born that year. My mother had nine children and she had them all at home except for me," said Sturgill.

Vigil organizers hope to come to some middle ground, despite the decision. They encouraged vigil attendees to reach out to elected officials, and provided them with contact information.

"Maybe we as a community can work together to make healthcare sustainable," said Larson.

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