Anne Arundel Medical Center has decided to close its last two neighborhood health centers next month, forcing hundreds of people to find emergency care elsewhere.
The hospital's board of trustees voted Thursday to stop the financial drain by shutting the walk-in clinics in Severna Park and Crofton.
Both centers have steadily lost money since they opened in 1987, said Fran Counihan, vice president of marketing and public relations.
"No business is in a situation today to continually lose money onan operation, no matter how desirable or worthy it is," she said.
Counihan emphasized the 20-member board "didn't come to the decisionlightly." Board members have debated closing the money-losing centers off and on for years, she said.
The hospital opened the two clinics and a third on Kent Island to provide care for minor injuries andbasic diagnostic services to the county's growing population.
Residents of outlying neighborhoods requested the service to avoid driving into Annapolis for treatment of minor injuries, burns or simple procedures like blood-pressure screenings.
Financial pressures prompted the hospital to close the Kent Island clinic in 1989 and sell it to a group of physicians.
Hospital officials hope another group ofphysicians will set up offices in the Severna Park and Crofton centers, Counihan said.
More than 500 patients a month were treated at the Crofton clinic, while another 900 received care at the Severna Park center.
The hospital will contact all the patients and discuss transferring their medical records.
"I know there will be some disappointed people," Counihan said. "We do feel badly about that. But being a non-profit organization, there's only so much of a loss we canabsorb."
Counihan would not reveal how much the hospital has loston each center, but said the amount is "more than we're willing to bear." The hospital had expected to break even eventually.
The clinics are scheduled to close July 1.
After that date, patients can receive urgent care at the hospital's emergency room or other neighborhood centers run by area physicians and health-care maintenance organizations.