Women's hospital relocates to St. David’s Medical Center

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Women seeking gynecological services from Austin Women’s Hospital will be referred to St. David’s Medical Center beginning Feb. 9.

The hospital, previously run by the UT Medical Branch on the fifth floor of the University Medical Center at Brackenridge, will relocate to St. David’s and run under the care of its nurses, according to a statement from the city of Austin health care agency, Central Health. St. David’s signed the $480,000 contract with Central Health on Jan. 18. UTMB officials announced in a statement last August that it did not wish to run the hospital anymore because the school was losing money as a result of declining patient numbers.

“I can’t speak to the technical aspect of the [new] facility,” said Central Health spokesman Mike McKinnon. “We know it’s a top-flight facility and there won’t be any decrease in the amenities or quality service.”

Plans are not official yet, but the women’s hospital may merge with the maternity ward at St. David’s, said McKinnon.

Central Health spokeswoman Christie Garbe said the move is an improvement because now women can be referred to one simple location rather than having to deal with the confusion of separate hospitals for the same treatments.

“We feel this new arrangement for deliveries and [tubectomies] is superior to the previous arrangement because we have freed up resources in the system by consolidating duplicative services,” Garbe said.

The same physicians will transfer to the new location to provide a smooth transition for women currently under care by the hospital, according a statement by Central Health.

UT spokesman Tim Green said the deans of the nursing school do not believe students will be affected by the closure of the hospital because they can work at other locations. Those who worked full-time for the hospital have been put at the top of the priority list for other UTMB positions for which they qualify, a statement by UTMB officials.

Geography senior Jessica Villarreal said she is upset UTMB will not run Austin Women’s Hospital anymore because women’s hospitals are an important area for students to gain experience in because women require so many personal procedures.

“When I first got to UT I had an ovarian cyst and felt very uncomfortable seeing the male doctor on campus about it,” Villarreal said. “Teaching students about women’s health is important so when they graduate they will have the skills to make women feel comfortable.”