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New Developments: Naval Hospital Pensacola cutbacks
ESCAMBIA COUNTY -- Following the story Channel 3 News broke last Thursday about cuts at Naval Hospital Pensacola, authorities there have announced the facility will be closing its intensive care unit by next June, and the emergency room will be converted to an urgent care center.
Service members, retirees and dependents will be able to get emergency care from other local hospitals.
Naval Hospital Pensacola will also end its Family Medicine Residency Program by 2016.
Authorities say the changes are being made in part because the hospital is underused and because of the military cutbacks required by sequestration.
"It's not fair. It's not right," said Christopher Hansen, a former nurse at the hospital, as he prepared some protest signs for a small demonstration he and a few other military retirees held in front of the facility.
Hansen worked for two years at the hospital and is extremely concerned about its future.
"There's just some things that give us a little more sense of security than an urgent care clinic," Hansen said.
The father of six is worried about the fact that starting next summer, the hospital will no longer receive ambulances. He says as a nurse with more than 20 years experience he's seen what can happen when patients don't get the care they need in time. In particular, he remembers a five year-old boy who didn't get the treatment he needed in Guam.
"He died right at the airport," Hansen said, "We didn't even get him off the ground. So some of these things are time critical, and I believe Pensacola deserves to have an ER on the West Side."
Hospital authorities say the emergency room currently serves around 60 patients a day, and they say nearly 90 percent of them could still get the treatment they need in an urgent care facility.
Hansen, meanwhile, says it's not just about the ICU and the ER going away. He's also not happy the Family Medicine Residency Program will be dissolved by 2016.
"I started nursing in a teaching hospital and there's a level of care that is given at a teaching hospital," Hansen said, "It's just a cut above."
Hospital leaders say a high quality of care at the facility will be maintained.