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Hospital partners welcome Bay Med employees

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Christa Dean Hild 
850-747-6542

Panama City, Forida  Bay Medical Center Sacred Heart Health System officials told employees Wednesday the new capital structure that eliminated the hospital’s outstanding debt will position the hospital to grow and improve.

Hospital employees were invited to a lunch to celebrate the change in governance and the end of the uncertainty the employees felt with the fate of the former not-for-profit at the mercy of the banks that were holding the debt.

Late Monday afternoon, just before the close of the business day, the joint venture partners and the Bay Medical Center Special District Board signed all the paperwork and the money was received. The prepaid, 40-year lease of the hospital means the LHP Hospital Group and Sacred Heart Health System will play a key role in Bay Med’s future.

LHP provided much of the capital for the $154 million deal and will manage the hospital. Bay Med employees have become LHP employees and the hospital also is now part of the Sacred Heart network in the Florida Panhandle.

“Our goal was to strengthen Bay Medical Center and in order for us to be successful we needed to be in a network,” said Bay Medical Center President and CEO Steve Johnson. “It was a complex deal, but it is remarkable that we were able to get the number of people at the table that was needed to get this done.”

Bay Med and Sacred Heart have had a long relationship, especially with the network’s expansion in recent years intoPort St. Joe and Destin. It is common for patients to be transferred between facilities.

“Welcome to the Sacred Heart family,”Sacred Heart Health System Vice President Henry Stovall told the employees. “We look forward to being a part of your life.”

Employees Jean Lambert and Vicki Malloy said they were excited about the fresh new start for the “new” Bay Medical Center.

“We are excited,” Malloy said. “It’s like we are part of a bigger family now.”

Extending the family was the way some employees and even Sacred Heart officials described the formal affiliation that now exists between Bay Med and the rest of the network.

“It’s a great day for Bay Medical Center, a great day for Sacred Heart Heath System, but an even better day for LHP,” said LHP President and CEO Dan Moen. “We are so excited to be part of Bay Medical Center.”