Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday June 19th 2018


Sixty Years Of Service

BY Catrina Hebert

For the past 60 years, Baptist Health Care has been providing Northwest Florida and South Alabama superior service based on Christian values to improve the quality of life for people and communities served.

On Oct. 17, 1951, Baptist Hospital took in its first patient at its facility with 140 beds on what was then considered the edge of town, Moreno and E streets. The hospital quickly became known for its superior technology and innovations.

It opened with the first post-operative recovery room in Florida. In 1964, Baptist Hospital had one of the nation’s first outpatient surgery centers and intensive care units. Life Flight helicopter ambulance service was brought to Baptist Hospital in 1977, becoming the first hospital-based emergency helicopter program in Florida, the third in the United States.

However, Baptist Health Care is more than technology. Its employees are the key to its success.

“Every last health care person in this company is working to stay connected to the patient and keeping the patient the center of care,” says David Wildebrandt, Senior Vice President for Baptist Health Care and Administrator for Baptist Hospital.

Baptist Health Care has more than 6,000 employees throughout Northwest Florida and South Alabama. Fortune Magazine has repeatedly named the healthcare system to its “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, and IN readers agree—it’s often a top finisher in IN’s annual Best of the Coast readers’ poll as well.

Happy, well-trained and dedicated employees translate to high quality care. Five Baptist Health Care facilities—Baptist Hospital, Gulf Breeze Hospital, Baptist Medical Park-Nine Mile, Jay Hospital and Atmore Community Hospital—have earned Summit Awards in recognition for sustaining the highest level of customer satisfaction for three or more consecutive years. The Summit awards are presented by Press Ganey Associates, the nation’s leading patient satisfaction measurement firm, which surveys more than 7,000 client facilities across the United States.

The emphasis on employee and patient satisfaction paid off handsomely in 2004, when President George W. Bush presented Baptist with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s premier award for performance excellence and quality achievement. The Baldrige Award was established by Congress to recognize the best qualities of American enterprise—an organization’s strengths in leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, human resources and business performance.

Baptist Hospital was selected after an extensive review process including an onsite visit to Baptist Hospital, Gulf Breeze Hospital and Baptist Medical Park-Nine Mile by seven national examiners. The team interviewed employees, observed operations and examined documents to evaluate Baptist’s level of performance excellence.

Besides its quality healthcare, Baptist has a tremendous number of community outreach programs that serve those less fortunate. In 2009, it provided an estimated total combined charity care and Medicaid of almost $30 million. The facility provided more than 4,000 community residents with free health-care screenings, which ranged from heart and stroke risk assessments, body composition analysis, speech and hearing, breast and skin risk, osteoporosis heel scans, blood glucose testing for diabetes, sleep disorder testing, and vision and sports physicals for youth.

During Blue Angel weekend on Pensacola Beach, Baptist partners with Moffitt Cancer Center to provide free screening for skin cancer. For the past five years, this has been an opportunity for residents to get free information and discuss sun exposure with expert dermatologists and physicians.

Baptist Health Care has contributed annually $525,000 to Escambia Community Clinic, allowing it to provide 326 inpatient hospitalization days and more than 987 charity patients with prescription drugs through pharmaceutical company drug programs. More than 4,900 prescriptions valued at $587,265 were provided.

Santa Rosa Community Clinic was able to provide 8,400 outpatient visits to people in need of care due to the support from Baptist Health Care.

Baptist Health Care continues to grow with performance and construction. In 2010, they began three major campus renovations and expansion projects.

“We call the projects building a better Baptist,” says Wildebrandt. “This is a big milestone for us because we are locally owned and a true community-based health care system.”

In April 2010, the $5-million expansion of Gulf Breeze Hospital was completed. The project added 10,000 square feet, created several new specialty staff positions and improved the services at Gulf Breeze Hospital. Two ICU beds were added for a total of eight critical care beds. Ten private patient beds were added, bringing the total licensed beds to 77.

Construction on the $24 million project on the Baptist Hospital Campus began in July 2010. The hospital’s main entrance will be reconfigured from Moreno Street to the west side. The new main entrance will feature a two-story atrium with lots of glass. On the second floor a new 42-bed wing for pre- and post-surgical-procedure patients will be added. Each of the 42 beds will be private rooms. Four new digital operating rooms will also be added to bring that total to 13.
Baptist broke ground in December 2010 on a $6-million, three-story building for Lakeview Center to provide all of its outpatient children’s services in a single location that is both more comfortable and more therapeutic for families with children requiring behavioral health services.

It took a leap of faith to build Baptist Hospital 60 years ago, and it’s that faith that has driven it to become such a vital part of the quality of life of Northwest Florida. The next 60 years are already on track to be just as exciting.