The closure of Madera Community Hospital in January created a lack of health-care services in Madera, Calif.
Credit: Melina Mara / The Washington Post

MADERA, CALIFORNIA — There is no place in this county to give birth short of an emergency.

The only facility caring for adults, Madera Community Hospital, closed in January, leaving women in labor a 40-minute drive to the closest alternative in another county. Babies often cannot wait out the ride.

More than 1,000 women had delivered babies each year at Madera Community. Over just a couple of weeks this fall, with it closed, a woman gave birth in a car on the shoulder of Avenue 9 in downtown Madera. A second delivered her baby at Valley Children’s Hospital, which, while in Madera County, does not have a maternity ward and other doctors and services that would certify it for adult care. It is also a roughly half-hour drive away from the city center.

“When my kids feel sick, we’d just head over there,” Erika Castro, a 50-year-old maid who gave birth […]

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