State health department reviews two maternal deaths at South Shore Hospital

The state public health department is conducting an outside review into the deaths of two women soon after giving birth at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, agency spokeswoman Anne Roche said Tuesday. She said she could not provide details because the inquiry is ongoing.

South Shore Hospital has continued to deliver babies while doing its own review of the maternal deaths, which occurred Dec. 14 and Wednesday. Deaths of women during or soon after childbirth are uncommon, but they continue to happen every year. There were 52 maternal deaths in Massachusetts during the 10-year period that ended in 2010.

“Early indications are that both these case were unpreventable and unanticipated,’’ said Sarah Darcy, spokeswoman for the Weymouth hospital. “The biggest measure we are really focused on is supporting these families and making sure they have everything they need or want from us.’’

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Colleen A. Celia, 32, a Middleborough mother of four, died Wednesday at South Shore Hospital while giving birth to a healthy baby girl, said her father, Raymond Romeroof Easton.

In an interview with the Globe Tuesday, the woman’s mother-in-law, Cindy Celia, said hospital medical staff tried to save Colleen Celia for two hours and that the family is having a very difficult time.

“Colleen was a super special woman,’’ she said. “She used to have a tattoo on her arm that said ‘move.’ It meant move forward, never look back.’’

Colleen Celia and her husband, Paul Celia, have four children, ages 14, 9, 6, and the newborn, she said.

The Brockton Enterprise reported that Christie Billodeau Fazio, 30, of Marshfield, who worked as a nurse at South Shore Hospital, died Dec. 14 while giving birth to a healthy son.

Roche said that a health department review “is standard protocol in serious reportable events.’’

“Due to privacy considerations, the health department is not able to comment on a specific patient or incident,’’ she said in a written statement.

Hospitals must report most maternal deaths or serious injuries to the health department within seven days of discovering the problem, and provide a follow-up report within 30 days after that.

Colleen Celia’s family has set up a fund to help care for her children. Donations may be sent to Bank of Easton, 275 Washington St., Easton, for the Colleen A. Romero-Celia Memorial Fund.