Affinity Medical Center in Massillon announced Friday it will close its doors by midnight on Feb. 4, citing "a challenging regulatory environment and increasing financial pressures."

The 156-bed acute care hospital says it has notified the Ohio Department of Health of its decision and that current patients will not be affected. It is currently the only hospital in the city of more than 30,000.

Affinity Medical Center CEO John Walsh gave his comments on the closing in a prepared statement:

Closing the hospital is an immensely difficult decision. We worked diligently to identify a regional partner to acquire the facility but were unsuccessful. Now we're shifting that effort to coordinate with local and state resources to help make a smooth transition for our patients and community. Fortunately, with several nearby health systems, clinics and physician providers, Stark County residents will have continued access to local care. We are extremely grateful to our dedicated team of employees, nurses, physicians, volunteers and board members for their tireless service to our patients and their families. Most of all, we are grateful to our community – our neighbors and friends – for allowing us to serve as your trusted healthcare resource for more than 100 years.

The hospital says employees will be paid through Mar. 6, and further assistance will be given to those looking for future work. Hospital leaders then plan to meet with real estate developers to try and find a new use for the land.

Meanwhile, National Nurses United—whose local affiliate represents more than 250 RNs at Affinity—is fighting to keep the hospital open, saying its closure could be dangerous for patients and present a problem for current employees.

RN Rose Anne Wilson, who works in Affinity's Orthopedic Department, said in a statement:

Nurses, like the rest of our community, are stunned by this sudden announcement to close Affinity Medical Center. I have been providing care to patients in this community for over 35 years and know that the care provided by nurses and other staff at AMC is very much needed. There is no way that I am going to accept this decision by QHC to abandon our community sitting down.