After 31 years in business, Gulf Coast Medical Center in Biloxi is closing its doors and moving north. Thursday afternoon, hospital executives delivered the stunning news to the employees that the hospital will shut down January first.
Gulf Coast Medical Center is home to 359 employees. Come January first, 282 of those workers will have to find new jobs.
"We've announced plans to relocate Gulf Coast Medical Center to an area north of I-10, and with that plan, we also will be closing hospital services here at the beach front campus," GCMC CEO Brenda Whitwell told WLOX News.
Whitwell says although the 31-year-old hospital has recovered physically from Katrina, financially, it's still suffering.
"We just don't see the population in this area to support the hospital. Frankly, we're still down about 40 percent below our pre-Katrina volumes at the hospital," Whitwell said.
The hospital's closure means a loss of 144 beds. However, other services will remain open on the campus, including Gulf Oaks Psychiatric Hospital, the Center for Breast Care, the Sleep Lab, and the Medical Office Building.
Hospital executives say re-locating the hospital away from the water makes a lot of sense.
"Although this is a difficult decision, we feel it's the right decision. We think we're going to be in a better place, the hospital will be in a safe location," Whitwell said. "We all have put our heart and soul into taking care of patients, and taking care of the community here, so it's a difficult day."
Whitwell says the hospital will spend the next 60 days, helping the employees find jobs with sister hospitals, or other health care companies.
Hospital officials say because of land negotiations, they cannot discuss plans for the new hospital. And they say there are no definite plans for the beach front hospital property.