HCA Closing St. Petersburg Hospital

Sep 23, 2014

For the first time since 2012, a hospital in Florida is closing its doors.

HCA West Florida announced Tuesday the 38-year-old Edward White Hospital in St. Petersburg will close by the end of November and consolidate services to three nearby hospitals it also owns.

Officials said operating costs at the aging facility continued to grow. And it pointed to a glut of hospital beds in the area: more than 1,000 in southern Pinellas County alone.

“In this era where healthcare is migrating to the outpatient setting, we are seeing a significant rise in unoccupied licensed hospital beds throughout the region,” HCA West Florida President Peter Marmerstein said in a statement.

This announcement marks the first time since 2010 any of the state’s 301 licensed hospitals closed, and just the fifth time in four years that it’s happened at all, Agency for Health Care Administration records show.

The state’s A.G. Holley State Hospital in Lantana -- which treated patients with tuberculosis -- closed in 2012 as part of a controversial budget-cutting effort. Before that, the last non-state run hospital that went out of business was The Family at Sunrise Hospital. It closed in September 2010.

Despite being in an urban market, Edward White - with 162 acute care beds – fell victim to stronger competition. It is about three miles from two larger facilities, BayCare’s St. Anthony’s Hospital and Bayfront Health, owned by Community Health Systems of Tennessee. Both are licensed for significantly more beds than Edward White and offer far more services.

HCA says all the services offered at Edward White will shift to three nearby facilities it also owns: Northside Hospital, Palms of Pasadena Hospital and St. Petersburg General Hospital.

In its statement, HCA predicted offering jobs at other facilities to 85 percent of the Edward White staff. Chief Executive Officer Sharon Hayes said it will also assist physicians wanting to transition practices to other HCA facilities, and may help expedite credentialing.

HCA, one of the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chains, owns 16 hospitals in the Tampa Bay area, including three it purchased in 2013. Statewide, it owns 42 facilities.

--Health News Florida is part of WUSF Public Media. Contact Editor Mary Shedden at (813) 974-8636, on Twitter @MaryShedden, or email at shedden@wusf.org. For more health news, visit HealthNewsFlorida.org.