Changes are in the works at Naval Hospital Pensacola, as part of a Navy-wide effort to save money.
NHP’s emergency room and four-bed intensive care unit are scheduled to close this summer. Hospital commander, Capt. Maureen Padden, says Navy medicine has been conducted a resource analysis the past two years – well before this year’s sequester and partial shutdown of the federal government.
At issue by the Naval Bureau of Medicine and Surgery is just where critical resources should be placed to best serve the beneficiary population.
The ER will be converted to an urgent care center. The main reason for that, says Padden, is the relatively light volume of patients, around 60 per day, that are treated there.
There are capabilities that the Naval Hospital does not have, such as neuro- and cardio-thoracic surgery, along with other highly specialized care available only at larger Navy medical centers. That’s where the area’s civilian hospitals, Sacred Heart, Baptist and West Florida, can step in.
The urgent care center a NHP will have shorter hours than the emergency room’s current 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weekday schedule. Also being scuttled, in 2016, is the hospital’s Family Medicine Residency Program which graduates about seven Navy doctors per year. The slots are going to larger Navy medical facilities.
Capt. Maureen Padden is quick to add that the cutbacks at Naval Hospital Pensacola are strictly in-house. They do not affect operations next door at the Veterans Administration Super Center. It’s a totally separate system with a separate funding stream. In fact, she says a robust sharing agreement between the two will continue.
The planned reductions are not cast in stone. They’re part of an overall plan under consideration by the Pentagon. Congress is also looking at it, but the final call is with the Navy and not with lawmakers.