Steward Florida hospital shutters obstetrics unit early

Miami-based North Shore Medical Center, part of Dallas-based Steward Health Care, has closed patient care in its obstetrics unit, effective Feb. 14, a few weeks earlier than its initial March 10 planned closure.

The cut includes the hospital's neonatal unit as well as labor and delivery, NBC Miami reported Feb. 15.

"This early transition was caused by a few factors including staffing level challenges and adjustments to our overall business plans," a spokesperson for North Shore Medical Center said in a statement shared with Becker's.

The unit cut has also affected physicians who will now look for new places to practice, which can take months, NBC Miami reported. 

"I've been here at this hospital for over 20 years," Christ-Ann Magloire, MD, an OB-GYN at North Shore Medical Center, told NBC Miami. "Most of the doctors have been here 10,15, 20 years. Right now, we are extremely scared."

Dr. Magloire told the publication that a large percentage of the hospital's patients, including immigrants from the border, don't receive consistent healthcare or have insurance.

"It's very dangerous if we don't have the services necessary to take care of them when they're in an acute critical state," Dr. Magloire told the publication.

"NSMC has activated its approved transition plan to transfer or discharge the few remaining patients prior to closure. Additionally, we have made all appropriate and required notifications to local and state regulators and our team members at NSMC," the statement said. 

The closures come as the hospital's owner, Steward, continues to deal with ongoing financial struggles, including being $50 million behind on rent to Medical Properties Trust, the largest hospital landlord in the U.S., and is facing backlash from Massachusetts lawmakers over the potential closures of four of its nine Massachusetts hospitals. 

The health system recently shared that it now has the ability to put a financial safety net around all of them and has no current plans to close its hospitals. 

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