Inglewood’s Centinela Hospital Will Cease Maternity Care
Inglewood’s Centinela Hospital Will Cease Maternity Care Credit: Chris Allen, BVN

Last Updated on August 21, 2023 by BVN

Breanna Reeves

Centinela Hospital Medical Center announced it will close its Maternal Child Health Services on October 25, 2023. The hospital began serving residents of Inglewood, CA in 1924 and today remains the only hospital offering maternity service in the city of more than 100,000 residents. 

Despite unveiling a newly remodeled maternity unit in December 2016, the demand for labor and delivery services has decreased over the last several years, down to fewer than two deliveries a day, according to a statement from Centinela Hospital Medical Center. The updated maternity unit included six LDR (Labor, Delivery, Recovery) birthing suites, 11 private postpartum rooms, C-section operating room, triage area and dual nursing stations in one central location.

Despite unveiling a newly remodeled maternity unit in December 2016, Centinela Hospital Medical Center will cease providing maternity care on October 25, 2023. (Image:

While the hospital at large will remain open and operating, residents in need of maternity care will have to turn to neighboring medical centers like Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Willowbrook and St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood.

“This transfer of services, effective late October, will allow Centinela to serve more patients and expand bed capacity to areas of community need, such as behavioral health services, general medical surgical services, and more,” read a statement sent via email from Centinela Hospital.

Centinela Hospital’s troubled history

Recently, Centinela Hospital has been under scrutiny after the death of 31-year-old Inglewood resident April Valentine in January, who complained of pain and swelling during labor. Her daughter was born by emergency cesarean section. Her family and loved ones called for the state to investigate the hospital’s involvement in her untimely passing.

In the wake of Valentine’s death, investigators from the California Department of Public Health followed up on a complaint filed against the hospital and conducted an evaluation between February 13, 2023 and February 18, 2023, noting observations from a sample size of patients. According to the evaluation, obtained by LAist in June, the hospital failed to deliver standard of care on more than one occasion and across different services. 

The report noted on multiple occasions that the hospital failed to “implement interventions to reduce the risk of blood clot formation” in four of five sampled patients in the Labor and Delivery Unit. The report also addressed inadequate nursing services and documented the hospital’s failure to “ensure adequate staffing by assigning a registered nurse to provide care to four of four sampled patients.”

Although the closure of maternity services at Centinela will mean that Inglewood residents will lose immediate access to necessary services, some believe that the hospital has not delivered the standard of care for a long time.

Raena Granberry, an Inglewood resident and the director of Maternal and Reproductive Health at the California Black Women’s Health Project, has spent years doing birth equity work in the community and beyond.

Granberry explained that the closure of maternity services at Centinela will contribute to an existing “medical desert” in Inglewood and surrounding neighborhoods of South Los Angeles.

“It does create a void here, but at the same time, there was always sort of a void here, even with that hospital and that maternity ward being here,” Granberry said, frankly. “I’m a resident and the truth is the majority of people did not want to go to the Centinela Hospital to have their babies.”

But Granberry recognized that while some residents chose treatment at other facilities, other people with less resources in the community relied on Centinela’s maternity services. She also acknowledged that seeking maternity services at neighboring medical centers in higher income cities won’t guarantee equitable and adequate care either.

Looking back as a way forward

Centinela’s decision to end maternity services may be an opportunity to return to the “ancestral practice” and utilize midwives, birth centers  and other community-based practices, according to Granberry.

“There should be an investment in more communities as a model,” she said. “I really, really want to stress the need for investment in midwives. It’s just really important to me because I see the difference in the care that is provided there.”

In California, there are roughly 1,200 certified nurse midwives and 500 licensed midwives, according to a report from the California Health Care Foundation on the state of maternity care. Certified nurse midwives are registered nurses who graduate from a nurse-midwifery program and often practice in hospital settings. A licensed midwife is an individual who has undergone training and is licensed to practice midwifery in the state, and often practice in birthing centers and homes.

Studies have found that birthing people who receive midwifery care are less likely to deliver by cesarean section, less likely to have a low birthweight infant and lower rates of complications.

“In my opinion, those types of things and investment in midwifery could really help in an instance where there is no hospital nearby,” Granberry stated. “Most midwives are mobile, and they will come to you. Investment there absolutely could help outcomes in our area and just access in our area.”

Granberry participates in an initiative called Cherished Futures for Black Moms and Babies in which community advisors and hospitals collaborate on implementation plans, discuss harsh truths and work with hospitals on finding solutions. Hospitals participating in the initiative have created Black parent committees and conducted Black patient surveys.

“Hospitals like Centinela had the opportunity to participate in initiatives like that, and they chose not to, so there’s a barrier there,” Granberry explained. “I don’t want to call it an unwillingness, but there are solutions and ways to work with their community to do better.”

Across Los Angeles and beyond, community-based organizations and community partners have made strides in addressing health equity by using community-centered models. With the growth of birth centers like Kindred Space LA, doula programs like Frontline Doulas, locally-funded initiatives such as Black Infants and Families Los Angeles and Black Infant Health Program and growing access to midwives, Granberry believes they will all contribute to the solution of improving the state of Black maternal health outcomes.

This article is published as part of the Commonwealth Health Equity Reporting Fellowship.

Breanna Reeves is a reporter in Riverside, California, and uses data-driven reporting to cover issues that affect the lives of Black Californians. Breanna joins Black Voice News as a Report for America Corps member. Previously, Breanna reported on activism and social inequality in San Francisco and Los Angeles, her hometown. Breanna graduated from San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in Print & Online Journalism. She received her master’s degree in Politics and Communication from the London School of Economics. Contact Breanna with tips, comments or concerns at or via twitter @_breereeves.