STARKE, Fla. – For the nearly 5,400 people in Starke, medical care is going to be harder to come by, as the area hospital is going to close at the end of April.
Shands Starke and Shands Live Oak regional medical centers are being sold, and the new owner, HCA Healthcare, will operate the sites as emergency rooms only.
Darlene Aliotta said she relies on Shands Starke for health care.
“It’s devastating for Starke. All these people losing their jobs -- they’ve been here for years," Aliotta said. “I’ve been going to the doctor’s office here for 30 years. It’s just sad.”
The medical centers in Starke and in Live Oak will be winding down service. There are about 176 employees in Starke, according to the city manager. A news release from the hospital said once the sale is complete, HCA Healthcare will keep the emergency service. The release does not mention what will happen with the current employees. Some employees told News4Jax they are planning to relocate for other jobs.
Maj. Brad Smith, with the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office, said this is going to have a huge impact on the city when it comes to health care.
“Honestly, this was an important part of this community. We know we are getting an emergency room still, but we’re still concerned about the other doctors are involved here,” said Smith, who added his primary care physician works as part of the group and he is waiting to hear what she is going to do about the practice.
The city manager of Starke told News4Jax he just learned last week that the hospital is making the changes. He said he hopes to get more information from the hospital Wednesday.
HCA Healthcare released the following statement on the acquisition of the hospitals in Starke and Live Oak: