Florida Surgeon General Ana M. Viamonte Ros and the secretary for the Agency for Health Care Administration, Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, addressed concerns about the inadequate health care facilities in Gadsden County during a health care forum sponsored by the Gadsden County Community Health Council, Inc.
"It’s for us to get a better sense and assess the health care needs. Talking with your legislators and other community members just to understand what we the needs are, what on our end we are able to do, what as a community you can help us do," said Viamonte Ros.
"To work with this county to try and find solutions to the health care issues so that we can have affordable, quality care for all in this county," said Dr. Agwunobi.
Employees described the health department building as old, dark and grungy. Saying the building was desperately in need of renovations.
"We just need a facility that is all around health. To have a building that is not healthy looking doesn't make you as a citizen feel like you want to go in there for services," said Gadsden County Community Health Council Chairperson Sherry VanLandingham.
The hospital closed its doors more than a year ago. The closure has forced many residents to travel to neighboring counties for emergencies.
"It's kind of difficult for people that have to run to Tallahassee to the hospital, especially when it's an emergency. The hospital would be great to be open at the time," Gadsden County resident Alto Smith said.
Legislators are lobbying for health care in Gadsden to be written into the legislative budget.
"We have been asked to try to get funding for renovations and improvements at the hospital so that when it re-opens, there is a facility that the management company can come in immediately and open," said Florida State Rep. Curtis Richardson.
County officials’ main goal still remains trying to get the hospital up and running again.
"To have both secretaries visit the hospital and actually see where we are and where we are going in terms of not only opening up the urgent care as a temporary solution to quality health care in Gadsden County, but actually taking a look at the rest of the hospital and actually knowing what our issues are," said Gadsden County Manager Marlon Brown.