BLOUNTSTOWN, Fla. (WMBB) — Officials with the Calhoun-Liberty hospital brought out the hardhats and shovels for the hospital’s groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning.
The ceremony came a few weeks after the hospital was awarded a $10 million grant from the Department of Economic Opportunity to go towards rebuilding.
Officials from the Calhoun-Liberty hospital said thanks to state and federal grants, they may be able to build the new hospital completely debt free.
“I know it’s gonna be a success because we have so many cheerleaders and so many people pulling for us,” said Calhoun-Liberty Hospital Board Chairman, Mark Plummer.
State Senator Bill Montford was at the ceremony and said investing in the Panhandle’s rural communities is not only important, but critical.
“It’s a perfect example of how a small community can all pull together and reach out and get support at the state level, the governor, the Florida legislature,” Montford said. “Everybody pitched in to make sure we had the funding to get it done and get it done right.”
Most of the employees who work at the Calhoun-Liberty Hospital are from the area and said despite Hurricane Michael damage, they still wanted to stay and serve their community.
“Everybody who works there is just a big family, you know from the doctors to the nurses who treat the patients even to the woman who runs our kitchen,” said Calhoun-Liberty Hospital Director of I.T., Dean Giles. “She takes care of all of us like we’re her children so it’s an important family that’s why we’ve stayed together and overcome.”
Officials said the new 65,000 square foot hospital will be finished within a couple of years and said at first the hospital will create 50 new jobs but it could go up to 100.
Christina Jepsen, the new hospital CEO, has worked for six other hospitals before accepting this position and said she is excited to be a part of the rebuilding process.
“You can’t even imagine,” Jepsen said. “I’ve heard the stories that all the staff have told me so far. I’ve only been here a week but oh my goodness the devastation and what they’ve been through they’re totally a resilient group. I am so excited to be with such a warm-hearted, wonderful bunch of people.”