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Come July, Naval Hospital Pensacola will transition to an ambulatory care model and will end obstetrics services, Navy officials announced Wednesday.

Expectant mothers with a delivery date after the transition will be referred to a health care facility in the local TRICARE network, officials said. Patients will be assigned an obstetric provider by TRICARE, but will have the option to select their own obstetric provider if they have a preference.

“The transition to an ambulatory care model will have minimal impact on the majority of our patients,” said Capt. Amy Branstetter, the hospital’s commanding officer. “Our patients, who include active duty service members, retirees and family members, will still receive the care they need and deserve, whether that care is at NHP or at another health care facility.”

The hospital will continue to provide “robust same-day ambulatory surgical capabilities,” officials said. Surgical procedures requiring an overnight stay will have to take place at a civilian hospital, or at military hospitals at Eglin Air Force Base or Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.

To assist patients referred to another medical facility for obstetrics or other care, NHP will establish a team of care coordinators to ensure patients enrolled to NHP are provided with the necessary care. The team will monitor a patient’s care and will help with making follow-up appointments with the patient’s primary physician at NHP after the birth of their child.

The decision to refer obstetric patients to network providers is part of Navy Medicine’s efforts to realign health care services at all of its military treatment facilities in order to provide the best care to beneficiaries and to ensure military providers receive important training opportunities. The decline in the number of deliveries at NHP allowed for the volume to easily be absorbed in the civilian network.

“Our staff, especially our active duty nurses, corpsmen and providers, need robust opportunities for skills sustainment in order to provide the best care to our patients,” said Branstetter. “The staff that was part of obstetric care at NHP will now be assigned to other areas of our hospital or to other Navy facilities where their skills will be fully utilized.”

As part of the transition, NHP will also be extending its urgent care center hours to 11 p.m. to enhance access to care for patients. The urgent care center is available for all TRICARE beneficiaries and is open every day, including holidays. Patients enrolled at NHP will continue to have access to primary and specialty care through their Medical Home Port Team. Services such as laboratory, pharmacy and radiology will also continue to be available for both TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Select beneficiaries.

“This transition ensures our entire beneficiary population has access to health care services, while allowing resources to be utilized to enhance medical readiness at other locations across the Navy Medicine enterprise,” said Branstetter. “It creates an opportunity for Navy Medicine to ensure critical military medical training is maintained in the appropriate settings, while still ensuring our beneficiaries in Pensacola have the necessary care available to them.”

The shift to outpatient care follows the decision in recent years to close Naval Hospital Pensacola’s emergency room, intensive care unit, and residency program.

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