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Nemours Breaks From Sacred Heart, Eyes Expansion In Panhandle

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Last week we brought you the story of Sacred Heart Health System ending its 19-year affiliation with Nemours Children’s Health System, from the Sacred Heart side. Now we hear from Nemours.

Sacred Heart sent out an RFP, Request for Proposals, which was answered by Nemours, University of Florida Health and some others. UF Health won out, and begins their partnership with Sacred Heart on January 1.

Nemours Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Mary Mehta, wants to make it clear that this wasn’t their idea.

“It was a decision by Sacred Heart administration to issue the RFP; it was not of our doing,” said Mehta.

Nemours has spent the past two decades providing pediatric sub-specialty care for Sacred Heart’s Children’s Hospital. During that time, the firm has expanded in the areas of pediatric medicine and surgery.

But it’s not like Nemours is going away tomorrow. Its lease at Sacred Heart runs through March of 2018, and Mehta says afterward, their physicians will retain full privileges at the current Children’s Hospital.

“We have a very robust outpatient practice, with patients that have depended on us for that sub-specialty care,” Mehta said. “And if there’s a need to go into Children’s Hospital for whatever needs to be done, we will be continuing to provide services to our patients.”

Sacred Heart CEO Susan Davis has said that the Nemours doctors’ access will also apply at the new Studer Family Children’s Hospital which is set to open in 2018. As far as what’s next for Nemours, Mehta says there have been no decisions about leaving the Sacred Heart campus, or looking for what she calls a “more pediatric-friendly environment.”

“The building is a little bit old, and has some challenges especially with parking and structural issues,” said Mehta.

Other questions that Nemours faces in severing ties with Sacred Heart Hospital involve just what kind of space will be sought – and even if they plan to stay in Pensacola. On the latter, Mehta removed any doubts.

“We do not intend to leave Pensacola at all,” Mehta said. “This is a very important area of the state that we want to reach more children.”

Something else to look forward to as a stand-alone health care facility, says Dr. Mary Mehta, is being freed up to look at expanding their presence in areas they currently don’t serve.

The two dozen doctors at Nemours in Pensacola serve more than 22,000 children annually in northwest Florida, south Alabama and neighboring areas.