The Florida Hospital Association honored the leaders and staff at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay in Panama City recently for their service to patients and staff during and after Hurricane Michael.

At its annual Celebration of Achievement in Quality and Service Awards, the Florida Hospital Association gave a Best Hospital Workplace Award to Ascension Sacred Heart’s hospital in Bay County for its work in caring for and sheltering area residents impacted by Hurricane Michael.

“We are humbled by this award, which recognizes the hard work that so many of our caregivers put in before, during and after Hurricane Michael, even while their own homes and lives were impacted by the storm,” said Heath Evans, President of Ascension Sacred Heart Bay, who was at the hospital when the hurricane hit. “We are excited that we are now hiring hundreds of additional associates as we work together to rebuild and grow our hospital and the services we provide this wonderful community.”

Of the 200 patients hospitalized during the storm, not one suffered injury, and all were evacuated safely. Every staff member was affected by the storm, but none abandoned their post. Cafeteria workers cooked three meals a day for weeks after the hurricane. While the inpatient floors were temporarily closed due to damage, the Emergency Department never stopped seeing patients.

Part of the hospital reopened in early January and two additional floors reopened last month. By the end of this year, the hospital will complete reconstruction and have 219 beds with private rooms.

In addition, Ascension St. Vincent’s received a community benefit award and the “Innovation of the Year in Patient Care” award from the Florida Hospital Association, both for its annual Ascension Medical Mission events, which provide the community with free basic medical care and connect participants with a medical home.

“Florida hospitals do so much more than treat illness and injury,” said Bruce Rueben, FHA President. “These leaders, teams and volunteers remove barriers to care for vulnerable populations, improve patient/provider communication, encourage healthy lifestyles and provide dependable support during emergencies. We are proud to recognize these anchor organizations in our communities.”