Citing rising medical costs and a declining number of mothers-to-be walking through their doors, Pasco Regional Medical Center announced it will close its obstetric unit effective Sept. 1.
The hospital will continue to deliver babies until that date. Patient advocates will work with any pregnant women who are due after Sept. 1 to find a new obstetrician to ensure their delivery will not be disrupted.
"We realize a change in a mother's birth experience is never easy," said Shauna McKinnon, chief executive officer of the 120-bed hospital. "But we had to make a difficult business decision in order to secure a more sustainable future for the hospital to continue to provide quality health care in Pasco County for generations."
The hospital's obstetric unit has experienced declines every year since 2008. East Pasco mothers have several choices, including Florida Hospital Zephyrhills and the new Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, which opened last fall with a "state-of-the-art obstetrics center" featuring "the luxury amenities you expect at a fine hotel."
Pasco Regional also noted rising medical malpractice premiums as well as reimbursements that do not keep pace with the hospital's costs.
Once the unit closes, the Dade City hospital will begin renovations to expand other services. Pasco Regional plans to add a state-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit and Orthopedic Joint Center, which includes specialization in minimally invasive surgery to serve the area's aging population.
That comes on the heels of other recent improvements. Last year the hospital finished a $7 million expansion that nearly tripled the size of its ER, adding more exam rooms, a more spacious waiting area and dedicated CT scanner suite, among other amenities. Last fall Pasco Regional also struck up a partnership with Shands at the University of Florida, which provides teleconferencing consultations on cardiac and stroke patient cases.
"In the past five years, we've invested $12.3 million in Pasco Regional Medical Center and we will continue to invest in the hospital in order to provide the highest quality services to the community for the long term," McKinnon said. "Our commitment to outstanding care and medical services remains."