Franklin County Hospital

A rural panhandle hospital will not shut down after all. Franklin County officials have decided to bring in new management with a familiar face.

On December 20 Dassee Health Care Systems, the company that manages George E. Weems Memorial Hospital in Apalachicola, informed Franklin County officials they would no longer be able to financially sustain the hospital.

This morning county officials held an emergency session to hear from other management companies and the public. Two different groups made presentations before the county, and officials decided on Black-Hawk Health Care, a management group out of Texas.

Black Hawk has already recruited the help of a local familiar face. Retired CEO of Bay Medical Center will now serve as the George Weems Memorial Hospital interim CEO.

Ron Wolff, Interim Hospital CEO, says, "This is a bridge hospital. It's located far enough from the metropolitan areas that you need health care, ‘cause otherwise you have a two-hour trip to receive basic emergency services. That's why I think these rural hospitals are so important to the health safety network in the state of Florida, especially in the panhandle where you have large distances between major cities."

The outgoing management company Dassee Health Care Systems also informed the county they would not be able to make the hospital's payroll this Friday.

Franklin County commissioners voted to pay the $90,000 in payroll for the hospital. Blackhawk Health Care will take over January 1, 2006.