Somehow, the ribbon cutting for the HCA Florida Twin Cities Hospital’s emergency room expansion and renovation took place on the one beautiful morning, wedged between two unforgiving winter storms.
The late-morning of Jan. 11, 2024, brought out administrators and medical staff from the hospital, mixed with members of both the Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce. Sun peaked through clouds, and temperate
weather marked a welcome to this medical facility’s continued service to Niceville, Valparaiso, and the surrounding area.
Opening the ceremony with an invocation was Chaplain Buddy Duncan, followed by ER Medical Director Dr. Todd Bell.
Bell talked about the benefits in seeing the expansion to the emergency room. “The rooms are big enough now that we can sit down in a chair and talk eye to eye with a patient,” he said. “The hallways are wider, it doesn’t look so old; it’s brighter.
“There is room for family members to sit,” he added.
A short keynote speech came from Chief Executive Officer Todd Jackson of HCA Florida Twin Cities Hospital. He opened by saying that the ribbon cutting was held at the front of the hospital’s main entrance instead of in the ER for one specific reason.
“The ER is being used right now,” Jackson said. “We have patients in there right now.” Work on the emergency room began 18 months ago, Jackson also said, when he and the hospital board discussed how they could better serve the Niceville/Valparaiso and North Bay portion of Okaloosa County.
“Here we stand cutting the ribbon on our newly renovated emergency room,” he said.
“We were right on time getting this project finished,” Jackson added. “I have to give a special thanks to our board of trustees.”
In addition to the board, Jackson recognized the 300 staff and volunteers who keep the Twin Cities Hospital going every day. A few of the staff and nurses were able to attend the ribbon cutting, as did members of the Okaloosa MedFlight and emergency medical services.
“We work in an industry where our customer, our patient, doesn’t want to come to us,” Jackson also said. “We’re here for you all.”
After the ceremony, in a separate interview, Jackson said the renovation came in two phases, first with a 4,000-square-foot building addition.
Phase two saw the renovation of the original space, bringing it up to date.
Florida-based Charles Perry Partners Inc. provided the construction, Jackson added.
“They brought the expertise,” he said. “They do a lot of health care construction. They knew what needed to be done, and they got it done.”
During the next year, Jackson said the staff anticipates seeing 20,000 patients come through the ER.
Meeting the needs of those patients will vary.
“It can be anything from an ear infection or sore throat up to a motor vehicle accident and everything in between,” he added.
With the updated facility, the lower level emergencies can be serviced through the fast track bays, while major emergencies can be handled in specialized rooms.
“The goal for fast track is less than 70 minutes,” Jackson said. “What we like to see is an empty waiting room.”