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With closure of A.G. Holley, hospitals in Miami and Jacksonville will treat TB patients

Lawmakers have tried for years, but it is finally happening: A.G. Holley State Hospital in Lantana is closing down at the end of the month. Now, the state's hardest-to-treat tuberculosis patients will be assigned to either Jackson Health System in Miami or Shands Jacksonville hospital, according to a news release from the Department of Health.

“Jackson Health System and Shands Jacksonville have national reputations for their level of expertise in caring for patients with complex health issues,” said state Surgeon General John Armstrong. “It is a testament to the quality of health care in our state that we now move into the future with confidence that these patients will receive continued high quality care in settings closer to their communities.”

A.G. Holley's closure is part of a sweeping reorganization of the Department of Health authorized by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. Although some public health advocates say they are concerned the streamlining could negatively affect patient health, Department of Health leaders have expressed optimism that the changes will help reduce costs while refocusing attention on the agency's main duties.

Many of A.G. Holley's patients are assigned the hospital under court order either because they have hard-to-treat strains of TB or were not following doctors' orders voluntarily. The hospital that opened in 1950 grew to a campus that could treat more than 500 patients at the height of the TB epidemic.

In the decades since, the hospital's population decreased dramatically as TB cases rapidly decreased; currently there are less than 50 patients at A.G. Holley. However, TB outbreaks still occur in Florida, which ranks sixth in the nation for diagnoses of the highly contagious and potentially deadly disease. Earlier this month, a TB outbreak in Duval County among the homeless was reported.

Under the agreement with Shands and Jackson, patient care at A.G. Holley will end on July 2 and the campus is slated to close by Jan. 1.