PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Ascension Sacred Heart-Bay celebrated a milestone on Wednesday morning, as they held a formal re-opening ceremony for the Panama City facility.

This comes nearly two years after Hurricane Michael devastated the hospital. 

“This was one of the biggest days for me in my career,” said the hospital’s president, Heath Evans. He said it’s been a long, trying road to recovery.

“For our staff that have worked on it every day, I can tell you it’s tiring, it’s been uncertain times,” Evans said. “But it’s also very rewarding to know what the future is going to hold.”

The facility sustained major structural and water damage from the storm, but Ascension Sacred Heart leaders made the decision to stay and rebuild.

“We needed this presence, and this community needed us,” said Ascension Sacred Heart Florida President and CEO, Tom VanOsdol. “It makes sense for us in terms of a geographic regional provider to have Panama City included.”

Now, about two years and $75 million later, they’re celebrating the facility being fully reopened.

It has 229 patient beds with private rooms, and employs more than 1,100 people.

“To be back to full capacity, to have Ascension really kind of [hold] a ground-breaking opening the doors, this is a very special day for Bay County and Panama City,” said Bay County Chairman “Griff” Griffitts, who was born at the facility.
Panama City Mayor, Greg Brudnicki, echoed those thoughts.

“Thank you Ascension Sacred Heart for investing, reinvesting and providing the level of health care that it takes to protect and provide for our community,” Brudnicki said at Wednesday’s ceremony.

Hospital staff said they’re excited to continue supporting and growing with the community.