800 Laid Off at Panama City Hospital Damaged by Michael

Bay Medical Sacred Heart – Panama City, Florida

Bay Medical Sacred Heart, Panama City’s largest hospital is in the process of laying off about 800 employees from its main facility. The hospital sustained extensive damage from Hurricane Michael.

The following is from the hospital’s CEO:

“…“We are heartbroken to share this news at such a difficult time,” Scott Campbell, CEO of Bay Medical, said in Tuesday’s press release. “The decision to reduce our workforce has been incredibly difficult, but necessary to ensure our ability to continue providing care to the community and preserve critical services.”…”

The first thing that comes to mind when I read this is, will these laid off workers be receiving their unemployment benefits. And the other question I have is how long will their benefits last while they’re laid off.

Too many times I’ve seen companies lay people off and they didn’t get their unemployment checks at all or, they only received compensation for a few months and then the checks stopped coming.

The story continues:

“…Much of the hospital, operated by Ardent Health Services, sustained heavy wind and water damage in the hurricane — far more than can be repaired anytime soon. As such, Bay Medical has had only its emergency room operational since the storm. The city’s other hospital, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, sustained less damage and has managed to reopen more of its services, but not all of them.

Officials still plan to reopen other parts of Bay Medical in stages starting soon after Jan. 1, the press release states. The first phase will include 75 inpatient beds with eight operating rooms and five cardiac catheterization labs…”

Personally, I believe that the hospital’s management is trying to give an overly optimistic appraisal of the situation. I would even go as far as saying their peddling “Hopium”. What I forsee happening here is that as the hospital is working to restore its facilities to pre-Michael status they’re going to find out pretty quickly that it’s going to take much longer to get things back to normal.

The following is another gem from the story:

“…Phillip Griffitts, a member of the Bay Medical board of trustees and chairman of the Bay County Commission, said he was confident the hospital would be fully restored.

“I’ve been assured by the leadership at Sacred Heart that it would rebuild it bigger and better,” Griffitts said…”

Instead of coming out and being realistic about the situation the hospital’s management wants to be ridiculously optimistic about its prospects to get things back to normal.

What the hospital’s management won’t ever bring up is the news about all the hospital closures all across the US over the last few years. I think that over the next few months as the hospital’s management battles with the insurance companies for money to fix the hospital the cold hard reality will set in. And if the insurance companies hold back enough money from the hospital for repairs then it’s very likely the hospital will shut down completely putting everyone there out of work.

I believe that this is a very real prospect, one which none of the management would dare talk about publicly, because they want to keep the lies going for however long it’s possible to. A few months ago there was a Bloomberg story about hospital closures and how more facilities are being shut down each year. One surprising thing I learned from the Bloomberg story and others related to this subject is that many hedge funds now own hospitals. This is a very alarming thing because hedge funds don’t care about the needs of local communities, they only care about how much profit they can’t strip from something.

If I was a laid off employee at Bay Medical Sacred Heart I would seriously be considering whatever other options I have and try to put a plan B together if I wasn’t able to go back to work. Because it’s a very real prospect that laid off employees there won’t be able to get their jobs back.


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