Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. has begun renovating shuttered Destin (Fla.) Hospital and intends to reopen it as an immediate-care center and physician clinic, MODERN HEALTHCARE has learned.
The 50-bed facility closed in the summer of 1994 after state health officials found several violations of its operating license.
An executive at Columbia's Fort Walton Beach (Fla.) Medical Center confirmed the work at Destin is under way but didn't provide further information. Other Columbia executives didn't return phone calls.
In addition to Columbia, at least two other groups are considering providing healthcare services in Destin.
News of Columbia's renovation plans didn't impress Destin Fire Chief Tuffy Dixon or Scott Hopes, who nearly acquired Destin before Columbia nixed the deal.
"It doesn't do us any good," Dixon said. "We can only transport patients to full-service hospitals."
Said Hopes, president of Healthcare Management Decisions, St. Petersburg, Fla.: "It's not economically feasible to operate anything but a full-service hospital. And, at $15 million to $20 million, it's too expensive to build a new hospital."
Nevertheless, Baptist Health Care, a six-hospital system based in Pensacola, Fla., is exploring the possibility of opening a healthcare facility in Destin that could eventually become a hospital, said Robert Van Slyke, a Baptist executive.
Baptist has scheduled an informal meeting with city officials and local hospital supporters later this year.
"Baptist is the first large hospital that has expressed a serious interest in opening some sort of healthcare facility here," said Destin City Manager Philip Cook. "They would do it in stages to avoid the certificate-of-need process. Ultimately, we would have a full-service hospital here."
A group of former Healthtrust executives in Nashville, Tenn., also is considering opening a 24-hour emergency department to serve Destin, said a source familiar with the plans. No further information was available.