Gulf Pines Hospital Saga

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Gulf Pines Hospital will go to the highest bidder next Wednesday unless current management can come up with $350,000. That means anyone including a developer could by the property leaving Gulf County without a hospital, but troubles for the small Port St. Joe Hospital don't end there.

Port St. Joe also holds a mortgage on the hospital of $400,000. The city is awaiting a foreclosure hearing in the next four to six weeks.

According to City Attorney Billy Joe Rish, Gulf Pines CEO Hubert Steeley is trying to come up with the money, but Gulf County and Port St. Joe officials says they are bracing for the worst and looking for possible answers with other hospitals.

One possible solution is an Urgent Care Facility run by the Gulf County Health Department. County officials are working on trying to get the money for the facility from the state.

Another option is to bring in all new hospital management. Several companies are interested and are currently in talks with the Gulf County Commission. Next week the Gulf County Healthcare Committee will meet with Sacred Heart Hospital out of Pensacola, InMed, a company from Birmingham, Alabama, and Ameris a hospital management group from Nashville, Tennessee.

Gulf County Administrator Don Butler says the committee will have some answers to healthcare problems in the area in four to six weeks.

Rish says although a developer could come in and purchase the land if it goes on the auction block next week, the area, within walking distance of the beach, is not zoned for high rise condominiums, but he says a developer could build some houses.