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NAPLES, Italy — The U.S. Navy hospital here has reshuffled its staffing numbers to reflect the population it serves, which translates into fewer medical providers, officials said.

As a result of extensive studies, the “medical staff was reduced to right-size the command to the community’s needs,” said Capt. Helen Pearlman, the hospital’s executive officer.

Staff reductions at the hospital at the support site base in Gricignano include: a pediatric nurse practitioner, two physician’s assistants, a nurse midwife, a child psychiatrist, a developmental pediatrician, and one emergency medicine physician.

Staff reductions at Capodichino base clinic include a physician’s assistant and a nurse practitioner.

By the end of July, all the staff cuts should be complete.

But appointments should be just as easy to get, officials said. For example, while the hospital is losing a nurse midwife, it still has two obstetrics/gynecologists on staff that can meet patient needs, Capt. Katie O’Farrell, the former commanding officer, said last week at her last base town hall meeting. O’Farrell was replaced Friday by Capt. Dale Molé.

There are backup plans to cover other changes.

“The specialties of child psychiatry and developmental pediatrics were very underutilized, and are being phased out of the naval hospital,” Pearlman wrote in an e-mail. “Patients needing these services will be seen by other [U.S. Navy] mental health providers, or pediatrics, respectively” at the Naples hospital.

Currently, the Naples area is home to more than 6,000 Americans, as military members, dependents, contractors or civilians.

And while one emergency room doctor is preparing to deploy to the Horn of Africa, four providers — two emergency room doctors, a family practice doctor, and a psychiatrist — are on their way back from deployments to Kuwait and Africa, which will help ease caseload on current staff, O’Farrell said.

One area where the hospital is hurting is in the dental department, and because of the lack of dentists, the hospital sees civilian patients only in emergencies, she said. Civilians see local national dentists set up through the Tricare system.

“There’s still no chance for civilians to see dentists, and I don’t think you’ll see that for awhile, if at all,” O’Farrell said, responding to questions from base residents.


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