Decatur Morgan Hospital is restructuring how it provides obstetrics and gynecological services, and by the summer of 2020 will have five OB-GYN doctors on its staff.
Dr. Thomas Ray, medical director of women’s services for Decatur Morgan Women’s Healthcare, has been building the team of doctors for more than a year.
Ray, who has practiced in Decatur since 1988, is retiring in December but will have the entire team in place before he leaves.
Two of the five doctors — Dr. G. Vernon Pegram and Dr. Mishanta Reyes — are already on staff, and two more OB-GYNs will be coming this summer. Ray said the final doctor will join the staff in the first part of 2020.
Decatur Morgan started building its own OB-GYN team after doctors with OB-GYN Associates gave notice Oct. 12 that they would no longer deliver babies coming through the emergency room at Decatur Morgan Hospital.
Hospital President Nat Richardson said Decatur Morgan Hospital needs its own OB-GYN doctors and the team Ray puts together will be dedicated to Decatur Morgan only.
“Women’s healthcare is a vital part of this community and we’re committed to make sure women have the best service possible,” he said.
OB-GYN Associates, which initially severed ties with Decatur Morgan Hospital in October 2008 because of an increase in uncompensated care, will maintain hospital privileges at Decatur Morgan.
Richardson said the group has an office in Madison and will continue to cover for Madison Hospital, which opened in 2012, and like Decatur Morgan, is part of the Huntsville Hospital Health System.
“It’s hard to cover for two hospitals,” he said, adding that the plan to make doctors part of Decatur Morgan’s staff will give women in the Decatur area “better access and choice.”
The effort to build Decatur Morgan’s in-house obstetrics and gynecological service gained traction when Ray told Richardson he planned to retire in two years.
“He didn’t want to lose my practice, which is the patients,” Ray said.
Ray moved his practice from office space Huntsville Hospital Health System owns at 13th Avenue Southeast to the spacious women’s healthcare wing in the medical plaza connected to the hospital.
Pegram, who has been in Decatur since 2009, was first to join the staff and about a year ago. Reyes came to Decatur after completing her residency in Albany, Georgia.
Pegram was in the group of obstetricians and gynecologists Decatur Morgan assembled in 2009 when OB-GYN Associates left the hospital.
“I’m happy to be able to serve the community,” he said. “I have families I have delivered four or five babies for and it means a lot when the kids come back to see you.”