North Walton Doctors’ Hospital replacing Healthmark Regional Medical Center
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - An empty medical campus in Defuniak Springs has a new owner.
North Walton Healthcare Campus LLC closed on the property that once housed the Healthmark Regional Medical Center.
The new facility which is comprised of physicians and community members plans to reopen the hospital and provide emergency care, surgical procedures, imaging, and lab services starting on January 1, 2024. The group said it also plans to recruit and attract specialty care providers into the adjacent medical office even sooner.
The new hospital will be named the North Walton Doctors Hospital.
According to the LLC the new CEO of the hospital, Huy Nguyen, has a track record of success in reviving rural hospitals. Since taking over as CEO of Doctors Memorial Hospital in Bonifay, Florida, that facility has more than doubled its revenues while increasing its Google review ratings from 2.3 to 4.0 stars, earning them the highest patient satisfaction of any hospital in the region.
“It really begins by changing the culture of an organization. In Bonifay, we made it clear to everyone that works at the hospital that our patients are our customers, and the goal is for everyone who walks through our doors to receive excellent customer service. We also made significant investments in technology. We are one of the few rural hospitals in the state offering robotic surgery. I don’t let the fact that we are rural become an excuse for not keeping up with the newest trends in healthcare. This is a part of the larger plan to bring high-quality health care to DeFuniak Springs,” Dr. Nguyen said.
Dr. Nguyen said he will be focusing on customer service and innovation regardless of the size of the hospital.
The Healthmark facility closed its doors in 2022 and left the majority of North Walton County without access to emergency medical services. Data from the Walton Economic Development Alliance tracks the drive times to emergency rooms, and it revealed that most of North Walton is not even within a 30-minute drive of any emergency room.
Dr. Nguyen said he will be at the Walton County Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday to ask for funding from the county to assist with the indigent care requirements of operating an emergency room. The group also said they are working with Walton County Fire and Rescue to provide support services for their EMTs responding to 911 calls in the field as well as support the county’s community paramedic initiative.
Partnerships with CHELCO and Northwest Florida State College are also in the early stages.
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