Last week, North Florida Regional Medical center sent out a press release, saying Shands Live Oak and Shands Starke were being sold to their parent company, HCA Healthcare, and both locations will close on April 30th. These two hospitals serve thousands of people in the two cities.
Live Oak's Mayor says he is very concerned about the effects this closing will have on the community.
Frank Davis, says, "It is a gut punch to our community. Not just the loss of jobs and I'm sure many of these people who are there will find work elsewhere, but they will still have to travel so it's really a sad day for our healthcare workers who work there."
Officials in Starke say they're also concerned with the number of people that will ultimately be out of a job, and what kinds of economic impacts this could have on the city.
John Holman, City manager for Starke, "I've also been in touch with our chamber of commerce, with the development authority for Bradford county, with our local legislative aid to receive some assistance from the state on what this economic impact could be."
The two hospitals will continue to operate as emergency rooms only. Mayor Davis says he hopes to work something out to make sure the hospitals don't completely close.
He says, "There is a lot of discussion, a lot of concerned citizens, government officials and leaders in our community which will be coming together and developing a strategy to see which direction to take. We certainly want to work with HCA."
The two emergency rooms at Starke and Live Oak which will remain open, serve approximately 20,000 people each year.