Gulf Pines Reopens

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Gulf County opened a new chapter in health care Friday, but it came from a familiar source. After a nine-month hiatus, Gulf Pines Hospital reopened its ER in Port St. Joe.

Gulf Pines Emergency Room has been empty for nine months, closed due to a lack of funds, but not anymore. This small hospital is finally on the rebound and the new management team says it’s all thanks to a dedicated staff.

“We just hope people will realize we're here. We're just working hard and hopefully the trust and community support will come back,” shares Liz Register, Gulf Pines CEO.

Register replaced former administrator Hubert Steeley as per the loan agreement that paid off Gulf Pines' more than $900,000 debt with the Gulf County and Port St. Joe.

She's spent the last 15 years running a similar small town hospital in Eufalla, Alabama. Also joining the team are Dr. Michael White from Bay Medical Center and local Physician's Assistant Wayne Blevins. Both say this time Gulf Pines is going to make it.

"We really have quality care and we hope people will start to come back,” Blevins says.

"This is a large hospital for this area and will only get bigger,” adds Dr. White.

Currently the newly opened ER can house nine patients in individual rooms and more in triage.

Although, Register says Gulf Pines isn't out of the woods yet. She says the ER is just the first step; they hope to begin offering critical access services in the coming year. That program will bring in much needed federal funding.

Last year Gulf Pines treated just 5,000 patients. The new staff hopes to double that.