By: Julia Deng
HOBBS, N.M. - Owners of Lea County's only obstetrics and gynecology practice reversed their decision to shut down the clinic, announcing Tuesday they would stay open and "continue serving the women of Hobbs and surrounding areas."
However, Premier OB-GYN doctors confirmed they would no longer deliver babies due to their "disassociation from Lea Regional Medical Center."
"This is going to be the only change," said Dr. Kathleen Callaghan, who has owned and operated the practice with her husband, Dr. Elias Said, since 2005. "It's unconventional [and] it's not usually done this way but we're offering that as an alternative to closing."
Premier will continue offering prenatal care, ultrasounds, lab work, antepartum testing and other obstetrical services to their 15,300 patients.
Callaghan announced plans to close their doors for good on February 25, following tensions with Lea Regional.
"The community response was overwhelming and understandably so," she said. "We are the only OB-GYN practice with practicing, board-certified physicians in this county."
Although Callaghan ultimately changed her mind and restructured Premier's business model - which included a pay cut to her own salary - in order to continue running the practice, she stuck with her original decision to end their affiliation with the hospital.
"We will never, ever have ties with them again," she told NewsWest 9. "They would have to make serious changes for us to even consider that."
Callaghan said her husband and co-owner of Premier previously worked in Lea Regional's emergency room.
She declined to go into detail about his "forced resignation" but cited safety concerns as "one of many reasons" they chose to end their clinic's affiliation with the hospital.
Lea Regional representatives said in a statement, "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."
Lea Regional could not be reached for comment following Callaghan's decision to keep Premier's doors open.