Two Florida lawmakers met with local public officials and the general public this week to find out what local constituents want them to accomplish in the upcoming legislative session.
Sen. George Gainer and Rep. Brad Drake met with Jackson County community at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in the meeting room of the Jackson County School Board in Marianna.
The two agreed to work toward the introduction of a bill that would allow Jackson Hospital to extend its reach to serve the Graceville and Campbellton-area communities, on the condition that Jackson County Commissioners provide a letter of support for that action. The Jackson Hospital District was created by legislative action many years ago, with boundaries set for it that do not currently include those northwest areas of the county. Jackson Hospital CEO James Platt made the request.
Although an expansion of the service border into that area could technically open the way for that hospital to take over operations of the now-closed Campbellton-Graceville Hospital, that does not currently appear likely to happen: Northwest Florida Healthcare Inc. acquired that property back in July of 2018 and has a license to run it.
That company runs the Northwest Florida Community Hospital in Chipley, currently its primary facility. It also now operates the clinic that is part of the old Campbellton-Graceville Hospital holdings. NFCH Administrator Michael Kozar said Friday that his group is preparing to re-open the hospital itself, but for a different type of health care mission, rather than as a traditional general hospital as it had existed. The company has not yet decided exactly what kind of facility it will be. There are four primary options on the table at this point, Kozar said. He expects a decision to be made in about four months. Behavioral health is general focus, and the facility could become an in-patient adolescent or adult psychiatric unit, a chemical dependency treatment center or an in-patient geriatric site.
As for Platt’s request for an expansion of Jackson Hospital’s service area, his next task may be to more fully inform Jackson County Commissioners of his hopes as he seeks their letter of support; Board Chairman Clint Pate said at the delegation session that the request presented there was the first he’d heard of the notion.