PANAMA CITY, FLA. -- Soon, more patients in and around Panama City will have access to high quality healthcare, thanks to a major expansion planned at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center. The 223-bed acute care hospital recently announced future development plans, including on-site expansions and renovations as well as new construction designed to keep pace with increasing demand for acute patient care.

The construction will add nearly 67,000 square feet and 52 new beds to Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, including the addition of a fourth and fifth floor to the north tower. A connector from the 3rd floor of the north tower to the main facility will also be constructed. The fourth floor will house a new medical/surgical floor featuring 22 private patient rooms. The fifth floor will house a state of the art, 18-bed acute inpatient rehabilitation facility. In addition, a third floor will be added to the south tower, housing a new 12-bed surgical intensive care unit. The project is anticipated to begin in 2020 and will take 18 months to complete, with a total investment of nearly $62 million. It is expected to create 100 new full-time jobs in Bay County.

According to Brad Griffin, CEO of Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, this expansion will address the deficit of hospital beds that resulted from the devastation of Hurricane Michael in 2018. It will also support the tremendous development currently underway and planned for the future in Bay County.

"Unfortunately, patients in our region are encountering overcrowded facilities and transfers out of town for medical care," Griffin said. "This expansion and investment further demonstrates our commitment to this community by improving access to local healthcare, keeping patients close to home, and creating new jobs."

In addition to this latest expansion, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center has recently invested in several other projects designed to improve access to healthcare in Bay County. Earlier this year, the hospital completed renovations of its post-partum unit and emergency room. By the end of 2019, it is scheduled to finish the expansion of the emergency room's ambulance canopy as well as adding an additional operating room.

Next year, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center will begin renovation and expansion of its outpatient diagnostic facility. In addition, on November 7, the hospital broke ground on its new freestanding emergency department, Panama City ER, which is scheduled to open in May 2020. The $11.5 million building will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is expected to serve an estimated 10,000 patients in its first year. As a fully functional emergency department, the ER will include 11 private patient care rooms, a dedicated cardiac/respiratory resuscitation room, a full hospital lab and diagnostic imaging services including X-ray, CT scan and ultrasound.

"The resiliency of the Bay County community is inspiring," Griffin said. "We are proud to be able to invest in our region's recovery in this significant way and we continue to be extremely optimistic about the future. As our community's rebuilding continues, we want our patients to know they can continue to depend on Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center to ensure they have convenient access to comprehensive healthcare services."

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