Signs of progress at Bay Medical Sacred Heart

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Bay Medical Sacred Heart in Panama City weathered the storm. Now, after Hurricane Michael, there are signs of progress.

"So we're licensed for 323 beds, we are opening 75 beds in what we call the West Tower," said CEO of Bay Medical Sacred Heart Scott Campbell.

Seventy-five beds are only about a fourth of what the hospital used to hold.

"So it's been roughly two and a half months of work to get to opening 75 beds and that includes 60 med surge beds, 15 ICU beds, eight operating rooms, in that tower, and also five cath labs," said Campbell.

Construction is non stop at the heavily damaged hospital.

"During the night of the storm, as we transferred patients out, we began the process of getting ServePro and construction companies in to remediate water, and to begin a step towards today," said Campbell.

It's the first step of coming back to what it used to be.

"You're operating a level two trauma center, with over 300 beds, and now you're operating a level two trauma center with 75 beds," said Campbell.

Campbell says the hospital is reopening in phases, but the hurricane may have changed the needs of the community.

"There's a lot of historical references to what happens post storm, as you know, and any type of business, what will be the demand for any type of service?" said Campbell.

He says demand has been strong at the Panama City Beach location.

"Before the storm, we were already seeing volume at a pace at that Beach ER in the first year we saw over 19,000 patients," said Campbell.

But he says for now, there's no timeline for growth at the beach, or at this hospital which has served Panama City for decades.

"I don't have a crystal ball, but the goal is that we come back, I'm sure down the pathway to being at full capacity as soon as possible," said Campbell.

Bay Medical recently announced it laid off hundreds of staff since it's not fully reopening, those employees are being paid through the beginning of February while they look for other jobs.