Maternity Care Deserts in Rural New Hampshire

PRS Briefs
Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The closure of labor and delivery units across New Hampshire poses numerous problems for the state's mothers and newborns, leaving large numbers of rural residents without easy access to maternity care services. These closures are the product of a variety of factors including a shrinking patient base, financial issues, and staffing challenges. If labor and delivery units continue to close, many parts of the state may become large maternity care deserts. To address this problem, New Hampshire must develop new initiatives and policies to ensure that residents have continued access to quality prenatal, delivery, and postnatal services. In this report, we first describe the factors driving the closure of these units and the effects of the closures. Next, we focused on conducting state-bystate comparisons, analyzing how other states (Alaska, Arkansas, Maine, and Vermont) have responded to their own maternity care crises along different dimensions that can help provide a model for New Hampshire's path forward. Lastly, we provide policy recommendations for the state of New Hampshire based on this analysis and the interviews of select stakeholders.