A town hall meeting was held Tuesday at the Honeyville Community Center to discuss Sacred Heart Hospital’s reopening of the Wewahitchka Health Department facility.
The center was scheduled to reopen in July, but a reduction in staff at Sacred Heart called for all positions to be reapproved, said Roger Hall, president of Sacred Heart Hospitals.
All positions requested were saved and Sacred Heart intends to reopen the center in mid-September, Hall added.
In attendance during the Tuesday meeting were County Commissioners Warren Yeager, Ward McDaniel, Carmen McLemore, and Tan Smiley.
Also in attendance was Marsha Lindeman, from the Florida Department of Health in Gulf County, North Florida Medical Centers CEO Joel Montgomery and Hall.
During the meeting, Lindeman detailed the services previously offered at the center prior to it being closed June 30 due to funding cuts from the state.
She said that the goal between the Department of Health and Sacred Heart was to look at the needs within the community and ensure that there were no gaps in services.
The core services offered by the Health Department when the facility reopens will not change, she said, and they would continue to provide dental, birth certificates, WIC, Healthy Start, tobacco prevention and school health.
Nurse practitioners will be staffed 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. CT on weekdays.
Immunizations will be available the first and third Friday of each month and volunteer family planning will be offered the first Tuesday.
Hall said that the medical center would mark the 22nd Sacred Heart-established facility and reminded those in attendance that SHH is ranked in the top 1 percent in patient experience nationwide.
He said that Sacred Heart’s Charity Care would be open to those who qualify at the medical center, a program that to-date had provided “$4 million dollars in compensated care.”
Dr. Angel Cortes from Tallahassee and Physician’s Assistant, Ann Rubin were hired as medical providers for the center, which will double the capacity to serve the local population.
Sacred Heart will offer same-day appointments and overnight lab work, though mental health services are on pause until a licensed clinical social worker can hired.
McLemore asked if the center would close when the grants that keep specialized services operating run out, but Lindeman assured him that they would renew the grant for 10 more years.