Three years of construction came to fruition today. Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf, located in Port St. Joe, is officially open for business.
"The area has needed it since the prior hospital closed about seven or eight years ago; and we've been working with the community for nearly three years on bringing this hospital to today,” said Roger Hall, President of Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf.
The $34 million facility is licensed for 25 beds and will be able to service over 20,000 people. By late Monday morning, Hall said patients had already started to trickle in.
"We now have two patients admitted. We've seen about eight patients come through the emergency department and patients for diagnostic images. So we're off to a greater than anticipated start,” said Hall.
And it is not just patients the hospital is helping.
Sacred Heart hired 100 employees to work at the new location as well as nearly 100 volunteers, including Jean Etheridge who has lived in Port St. Joe for close to 50 years.
“I was just so happy to have this facility here I wanted to do everything I could to help,” said Etheridge, a hospital volunteer.
It's that community help that Hall says is what made this grand opening possible.
"The community was gracious enough to pass additional taxation, and in addition to that, we've raised over ten-million for this facility from the local people. So, we are a community hospital. We couldn't be here without it,” said Hall.
So far, Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf has 19 beds for in-patient services and eight different emergency departments, but no plans for an intensive care unit.
However, arrangements are being made with other hospitals in the area for those patients.