ST. PETERSBURG — In the latest sign of the region's changing health care landscape, Bayfront Medical Center is moving away from providing some cancer services and into hospice care.
The St. Petersburg hospital told employees this week it was ceasing its outpatient radiation and chemotherapy programs. Hospital leaders made the decision in light of the trend to offer these services through private doctors' offices, according to Bayfront spokeswoman Kim Simers.
The hospital will continue to treat the seven patients currently receiving the therapies there, but won't accept new patients. The programs were losing money, Simers said.
Bayfront will continue to provide other cancer services, including inpatient chemotherapy, gamma knife therapy and infusion therapy. And it remains committed to offering inpatient medical and surgical cancer care.
"Those services are as strong as ever and have not been diminished in any way," Simers said. "What this enables us to do is to focus our time and attention on other health care needs."
That includes opening a 12-bed hospice unit at Bayfront in partnership with Suncoast Hospice to serve terminally ill hospital patients who would prefer to be in a more home-like setting.
The unit will be the first of its kind in Pinellas County, Simers said, offering patients too fragile for discharge hospice's palliative care, but with a more comfortable setting than a traditional hospital room. Renovations are under way for the program, scheduled to open at the end of this year or early in 2012.
Bayfront is also expanding its hospital-owned physician practices in cardiology, orthopedics and primary care.
About a half dozen employees are affected by the closing of the cancer programs, Simers said. Officials hope to place most into vacant positions at Bayfront.
Letitia Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8330. For more health news, visit www.tampabay.com/health.