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Hurricane Michael-ravaged Bay Medical Sacred Heart announces merger, layoffs as it reopens inpatient services

Ascension plans to acquire the facility early next year; meanwhile 635 employees will be laid off come February.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Photo courtesy <a href=""> Sacred Heart Health</a>Photo courtesy Sacred Heart Health

Three months after braving the onslaught of Hurricane Michael, Bay Medical Sacred Heart resumed inpatient care on Wednesday. As the hospital reopens, both a possible acquisition by Ascension and major layoffs have also been announced.

A spokesperson for Bay Medical said the 635 laid-off employees will be paid through February 4 and will have benefits through February 28. One report said the hospital has been struggling to recover since the storm. Bay Medical did not release a comment directly on the reason for the layoffs or what staff will be included.

The reopening of inpatient and ambulatory services will roll out in stages, with the initial focus on heart care, surgery, and trauma care. A first phase includes 75 inpatient rooms, including 15 intensive care beds and 60 medical-surgical beds, as well as eight operating rooms and five heart catheterization labs. The majority of physicians have returned to their original offices or found new long-term office space.


Bay Medical is a Level 2 trauma center and the only trauma center between Pensacola and Tallahassee, and the facility staffs clinicians spanning multiple specialties including general, orthopedic, trauma and neurosurgeons as well as other surgical and non-surgical specialists.


Hurricane Michael decimated parts of the Florida panhandle, Mexico Beach, Panama City and parts of Georgia, among other areas. The Category 4 hurricane was responsible for at least 36 deaths and did roughly $15 billion in damage.

Multiple hospitals either closed, limited operations or evacuated patients as the storm hit, including Bay Medical whose ER has maintained operations since the storm.


Bay Medical has announced that Ascension plans to fully acquire the hospital early next year from its current parent company Ardent Health, which holds the majority interest in the joint venture company that leases the Bay Medical land and buildings. Should the deal close as expected, Sacred Heart will be able to take over as sole operator of the hospital and its affiliated physician offices.

Bay Medical is also the only local hospital that performs open heart surgery. It will continue to offer heart diagnostic and surgical procedures, including angioplasty and stent placement, the system said.


"Bay Medical has served Bay County and the surrounding area for 70 years, and we're proud of the role we've played in the growth and health of our city and Bay County," CEO Scott Campbell said. "We hope our return will be a significant sign of the renewal taking place across this region. We look forward to continuing to grow far into the future."

Tom VanOsdol, CEO of Ascension Florida, added: "Ascension and Sacred Heart are grateful for the work and sacrifices made by the faithful employees of Bay Medical Sacred Heart. These dedicated professionals have maintained emergency services for the individuals and families of Panama City and Bay County without interruption since Hurricane Michael, and they have played an integral role in our ability to re-open our inpatient facilities today."

Twitter: @BethJSanborn

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