By Alicia Neaves
LEA COUNTY - Women in Lea County may have to travel for miles just to see an OB-GYN, all because of a shocking announcement made on Wednesday.
The only practice in Lea County is shutting its doors immediately. They'll stop helping patients by the end of March.
Patients walked in and out all day Thursday collecting their free medical records after hearing the news that Premier OB-GYN is closing its practice and ending its affiliation with Lea Regional Medical Center.
"We have a total of 15,300 patients in this practice, so it's a large practice. We are the only OB-GYN practice in Lea County at this time," Elias Said, M.D., Administrator of Premier OB-GYN and Physician, said.
Premier OB-GYN in Hobbs announced it will be closing its practice immediately due to ongoing tensions with the administration of Lea Regional Medical Center, which they say developed into a hostile environment for their physicians.
"The decision was based on a desire to provide safe patient care for our patients who are having babies and using our local facility to do that," Kathleen Callaghan, M.D., Physician and OB-GYN, said.
Although the doors are closed, they will still be available for emergencies for the next 30 days.
"We are gonna deliver every baby for every patient that goes into labor for the next 30 days," Callaghan said.
The practice also sent out a lengthy list of doctors they recommend.
Patient Emily Wood was devastated to hear the news.
"I hate it. Dr. Callaghan is an amazing doctor. If she ever opens her practice, I know I'll go to her," Wood said.
NewsWest 9 reached out to Lea Regional Medical Center. In a statement, they said they, "Lea Regional Medical Center understands that local access to gynecologic and obstetric services is important for our community and we are committed to providing women with safe, quality care. We enjoy positive working relationships with our hospital's physician leaders and other medical staff members and are unaware of any concerns related to Dr. Kathleen Callaghan. Our team is as surprised as everyone else by Dr. Callaghan's abrupt closure of her practice. We have immediately worked to secure the services of other OB-GYNs to provide care in light of Dr. Callaghan's decision to cease care for her Hobbs patients."
The statement goes on to say, "All women scheduled to deliver here are being contacted by our women's services team to assure them we will work through a smooth transition of their care. We are strengthening our hospital's affiliated women's practice by discussing options with the other OB-GYN and clinician at Premier to retain their services in our community. A well-known OB-GYN in Hobbs, Dr. Jerry McLaughlin, is already covering deliveries at our hospital and the nurse practitioners of Desert View Women's Health are providing pre-natal and other gynecologic care.
More dates are being set for our labor and delivery open houses to introduce expectant mothers to the nurses and other clinicians who will support them. Our hospital delivers more than 900 babies each year and performs hundreds of gynecologic surgeries and mammograms and we will continue to invest in recruiting more OB-GYN's and needed resources to support the women of our community."
In the meantime, Premier OB-GYN says they are negotiating with other hospitals to team up and they hope to remain in the community.
"When we are secure and we know we're staying, we know we can provide care, our patients will get the first phone call," Callaghan said.
If you're a patient and you'd like to see the doctors list provided by Premier OB/GYN,