BLOUNTSTOWN, Fla. (WMBB) — Calhoun Liberty Hospital celebrated its construction kick-off Friday morning. 

Access to healthcare is essential in every community, especially during an emergency. Officials say the construction of the hospital is pivotal in providing residents with high-quality healthcare.

“It’s all about the community., and this hospital is so needed,” said Calhoun Liberty Hospital CEO Christinia Jepsen. “It’s tentative whether or not you can keep the original hospital open with a rubber roof and 650 sandbags. Every storm that comes through is very, very tense for us because we have to board everything up and just hope that we don’t get more than 40-mile-an-hour wind speeds.”

The current hospital is understaffed and doesn’t provide a lot of necessary services like labor and delivery. Residents have to drive at least an hour to get to a larger hospital, and that’s less than ideal in the event of an emergency. The new 50,000-square-foot hospital will include accommodations to provide fast and efficient care. 

“It’s an eight-bed critical access hospital, so there’s eight overnight beds and then there’s eight treatment beds,” said Hoar Construction Project Executive Matt Valentine. “You’ll have basically everything you have in a normal facility, you have some dining, the office suites, imaging departments, and then there’s expansion plans for the project later.”

The construction kick-off was also nostalgic for some. 101-year-old Doris Traylor witnessed the construction of the original hospital and worked there for 28 years. She says she’s grateful to see the construction of another facility. 

“This facility will keep people from having to drive way out of town for medical attention, and that will be a plus for all citizens like myself,” said Traylor. “I have celebrated my 101st birthday recently, and I’m still going strong and I’m blessed by the good Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Construction of the hospital will begin in mid-December and is projected to be completed by the Summer of 2025.