Gulf Pines Unsafe?

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Gulf County commissioners say they are ready to move on after years of dealing with Gulf Pines Hospital and its owner.

A walk-out two weeks ago dealt another blow to the financially troubled hospital, and now commissioners say they are tired of waiting for Gulf Pines to close.

The tiny rural hospital showed promise about six months ago with a new CEO and emergency room manager, but they say by mid-January Gulf Pines was once again in trouble.

Dr. Michael White, a former Gulf Pines employee, says, "A company came to collect something like $250,000, and that froze the accounts. Then we couldn't buy the supplies we needed."

But Gulf Pines’ owner Hubert Steeley and his staff say that's just not true. They say the supply shelves are stocked. Nonetheless, Gulf County commissioners say they are moving on.

Chairman Nathan Peters says the county cannot depend on Gulf Pines Hospital to be there for the community. The county's health care committee is meeting with commissioners to lay out a plan for bypassing Gulf Pines and building a new hospital with Sacred Heart and the St. Joe Company.

Chairman Peters says he hopes Sacred Heart will step up and put something in writing pledging to build the hospital, but a new hospital will take at least two years to get up and running.