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Senators: Give Notice In Obstetrical Unit Closures

kellistargel.jpg
Florida Senate
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State Sen. Kelli Stargel

With supporters saying such closures can affect pregnant women who are close to giving birth, the Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would require hospitals to give 120-day notices to doctors before shutting down obstetrical departments or halting obstetrical services.

The bill (SB 586), sponsored by state Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, now will go to the House.

A version (HB 471), filed by state Rep. Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland, has been approved by a House subcommittee and is pending in the House Health & Human Services Committee.

As an example of the issues involved in the bill, a Senate staff analysis pointed to an announcement in June 2007 by Bartow Regional Medical Center that it would close an obstetrical department at the end of July 2007.