A new era in medical care got underway in northwest Florida. A groundbreaking ceremony took place for the new Doctors Memorial hospital in Bonifay.
With the turning of the shovels, construction officially got underway on a $16.7 million dollar new Doctors Memorial Hospital. It will be located on a 10-acre site of land at the I-10 and Highway 79 Bonifay exit. It will replace the current hospital, which is described as being outdated.
Brenda Blitch, chairman of the Holmes Co. Hospital Corporation said, "I and the board believes that rural hospitals are essential, and are the life blood to a community, and they deserve this care."
Doctors Memorial serves a growing area of the Central Panhandle. The site along Interstate 10 is also expected to give greater access to emergency care.
CEO of Doctors Memorial Hospital Robert Winkler said, "More than doubling our space, and offers several services that we don't or can't because we don't have the space."
For one physician who has been on the Doctors Memorial staff for more than 40-years, the new hospital is badly needed.
Bonifay Physician Dr. Herb Brooks said, "Its needs are there. Panama City Beach folks are moving here. Dothan folks are moving south. We’re going to see a great deal of growth in the next 5 to 10 years, and we are already maxed out."
Dr. Lisa Bailey, another Bonifay physician said, "This new hospital will have an awesome emergency room, X-ray facility. We’ll be able to offer services that you previously had to go out of town for."
The hospital employs 120 people and shows an annual payroll of $3 million dollars.
Construction on the new Doctors Memorial Hospital is expected to be completed in a little more than a year from now.