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Manistee – A hospital in northern Michigan is closing its maternity ward at the end of May.

Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital says the number of births has been steadily declining to around 150 per year. There were only six in March, a record low.

Spokeswoman Julie Mueller tells the News Advocate that the hospital needs about 350 births to break even on obstetric services. The departure of a doctor in May also was a factor in the decision to close the ward.

The Manistee hospital still will offer prenatal and postnatal care, but women will give birth at Munson’s hospital in Cadillac, 50 miles east. There also are other options in the region.

Fifteen jobs will be lost. The Michigan Nurses Association says it’s “gravely concerned” about the impact on the community.

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