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Naval Hospital Beaufort emergency room closing June 1

Naval Hospital Beaufort announced Wednesday it will close its emergency room and end obstetric services June 1, a month earlier than previously planned.

Patients needing immediate care should go to the nearest emergency room, which for most nearby residents is Beaufort Memorial Hospital, according to Naval Hospital spokesman Nicholas Spinelli.

Spinelli said the hospital will refer obstetrics patients to providers in their network.

In January, the hospital announced it would close its emergency room, stop providing obstetrics and many gynecology services, and reduce surgical and pediatric services by June 30, part of a nationwide shift in U.S. Navy hospitals. Spinelli said basic gynecology services will still be offered at the hospital.

Eliminated services will be available at local hospitals through the Tricare health network, to which most military families belong. In their place, the hospital's Medical Home Port -- a primary-care clinic that uses a team of doctors, nurses and case managers to treat patients -- will be emphasized, according to a news release. The hospital's Home Port clinic opened in January 2011.

Because the closing date has been changed, Naval Hospital Beaufort will expand the Home Port clinic's hours, offering later appointments Tuesdays through Thursdays. An extended clinic will also offer appointments and walk-in services for non-emergency health issues from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekends and holidays, the release said.

The Nurse Advice Line also has been established so military families can receive information about medical problems. The line will be staffed 24 hours a day and can be reached at 800-874-2273, the release said.

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