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Senators: Give Notice In Obstetrical Unit Closures

Florida Senate
The Florida Channel
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.