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Is Campbellton-Graceville Hospital’s new agreement in best interest of Graceville?

  • Written by  Woody Hatcher and Shelia Mader
Is Campbellton-Graceville Hospital’s new agreement in best interest of Graceville?

The Campbellton-Graceville Hospital has undergone a series of financial hardships over the last several years.  In an effort to save the hospital, several alternatives were unsuccessfully pursued.  A desperate effort was made when an agreement was reached with People’s Choice Hospital out of Chicago.  Promises were made before the official agreement and some were incorporated in the actual agreement.  

It is alleged that not only promises that were made outside of the agreement never materialized but after the agreement was made, People’s Choice immediately began going outside the agreement which resulted in placing the hospital deeper in debt, and causing trouble with Medicare and Medicaid payments being paid.  

This proved to be a burden the Campbellton-Graceville Hospital could not overcome. The bankruptcy court ordered closing the hospital.  

In an effort to provide a service that could meet the medical needs for the citizens of Graceville-Campbellton area, there were negotiations with Northwest Florida Community Healthcare, Inc. over the last several months.

The TIMES attended a number of these meetings and was present when discussions were held regarding how to utilize the hospital property and thus preserve jobs.  There were discussions as to repurposing the hospital which included a mental health unit, Baker Act services for mental illness and substance abuse, a unit to house and treat Alzheimer’s patients, a geriatric facility, while maintaining an urgent care center and emergency care unit.  

Two concerns surfaced locally when the agreement between the NW Florida Community Healthcare, Inc. and Campbell-Graceville Hospital was reached on September 19.  

First, the language in discussion after the agreement by NWFCH CEO Michael Cozart appeared to be vague. In his statement regarding repurposing the CGH building, he advised it would be months before the citizens of Graceville would see any progress.  However, immediate action was taken to close the hospital physician’s clinic and reopen it with their staff.

While concerns may be premature, some of the locals are concerned this may be a repeat of the agreement reached with People’s Choice Hospital.   

There are those who believe promises to repurpose the hospital should be met with reasonable activity to achieve some of the stated goals.  Suggestions have been made to form a committee to monitor the activity by the NWFCH to insure they are following through with their promises.

Another area of concern is the Campbellton-Graceville Physician’s Clinic.  Throughout discussions, NWFCH expressed a desire to open an urgent care center or possibly an emergency room to replace the emergency room that closed with the hospital.  Concerns are this promise was not addressed.  Instead, NWFCH simply took over the physician’s clinic with their own doctor.

Some concerns are NWFCH has no intentions of repurposing the hospital and maintaining local jobs.  They will simply use the clinic as a doctor’s office for referrals to the Chipley Emergency room and inpatient services at the Chipley Hospital, and that they have no intentions of establishing an urgent care or emergency room at Graceville, but simply maintain a physician’s clinic.

If NWFCH follows through timely as promised on repurposing, and opens an urgent care or emergency care unit, Campbellton-Graceville Hospital finally has made an agreement that will benefit the citizens of the Campbellton-Graceville area. If promises are not kept by NWFCH, the citizens will be left without needed jobs and medical services that may be life-saving.  

The citizens of Graceville have paid a special tax assessment since 1962 and deserve quality medical services.  Time will tell if they receive what they have paid for and deserve. 

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