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Women & Children’s Hospital has opened three more OB/GYN centers.

The new centers are in Lockport, Lancaster and Hamburg.

“We’re trying to extend access to the care at Women & Children’s,” said Dr. Gil Farkash, Kaleida Health’s chief of service for OB/GYN.

Women & Children’s Hospital opened similar centers in the last two years in Kaleida Health’s DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda and Erie County Medical Center’s Grider Family Health Center in Buffalo. It has long offered OB/GYN services at its Bryant Street headquarters.

Each of the centers has a physician and nurse practitioner. The services include fetal monitoring and ultrasound examination, as well as access to childbirth education, lactation services, registered dieticians and genetic counseling and testing at Women & Children’s.

Kaleida Health’s Women & Children’s Hospital and Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital and Catholic Health System’s Sisters and Mercy hospitals deliver most of the babies in the region.

The competition between the two organizations has turned fierce as the number of pregnancies declines. The number of births in Erie County fell from 11,280 in 2000 to 9,773 in 2010, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Women & Children’s centers in Lancaster and Hamburg are in an area where Catholic Health System has been considered strong.

Dr. Richard Ruh, senior vice president of service lines at Catholic Health, said Kaleida Health picked the new locations to gain a competitive advantage rather than to locate where there is a lack of OB/GYN services.

“None of them is located where women are lacking prenatal care,” he said. “Women in those areas don’t need more services.”

Both Kaleida Health and Catholic Health stress their quality of the care and amenities. They also try to differentiate themselves.

Farkash said Women & Children’s treats the most critically ill newborns, especially those needing surgery and including many babies transferred from other hospitals.

Catholic Health hospitals delivered more babies last year – 5,676 to Kaleida Health’s 5,444.

Ruh said Catholic Health has projects in the pipeline to expand OB/GYN services on Buffalo’s East Side and in Springville.

Farkash said the centers can be viewed as competition. But the new centers are in areas where Women & Children’s needed to provide more access to patients to better attract patients from those areas.

“Each of the hospitals has a robust population of patients,” he said “But we’re also competing for the same patients.”

email: hdavis@buffnews.com