Santa Rosa Medical Center’s growth is a positive attraction for city

Published on August 17, 2016 with 3 Comments

“I love the city. I love the hospital. I love the people.”

Volunteers greet newcomers just inside the front door of Santa Rosa Medical Center (SRMC). They are prepared with information and a smile. The same treatment is the same across the board, said Doug Sills, chief executive officer for the hospital. Sills said he chose to work at SRMC specifically. He recalls driving through downtown Milton on Highway 90 on a trip with his wife and being charmed by the downtown Riverwalk’s atmosphere. “I love the city. I love the hospital. I love the people,” he said.

Sills said Milton has many aspects people are looking for in a place to call home: good health care, schools and recreation. He said the growth of SRMC is indicative of the availability of those things. “Physicians are looking for these essentials. When we employ good physicians, they move into the area with their families. Their children go to our schools and play sports. They bring in more business. It’s a win for all of us,” he said.


Doug Sills, SRMC chief executive officer Photo by Pamela Holt, City PIO


The acquisition of SRMC’s previous owner, Health Management Associates, by Community Health Systems saw a change in management with Sills replacing then CEO Phillip Wright. Sills said Wright began the process of the new emergency room and he will continue Wright’s work in improving the quality and perception of the hospital.

Sills sat behind the desk as the new CEO on February 1, 2015. Since then he has recruited 12 new physicians and has a plan to continue recruiting 5 per year for the next few years. “The more we recruit, the better for the economy,” he said.

Sills said SRMC’s quality of care is the best kept secret in Santa Rosa County. He said although their quality is outstanding, the perception within the community hasn’t always been up to par. “It’s a different hospital than it was 10 years ago. We’ve come a long way. It’s more than what you see. We aren’t interested in white washing the walls to make it just look better. It is a much improved center.”

The New ER

According to Sills, the new emergency room was a  $7.5 million expansion which concluded in May of this year that added more than 13,000 square feet of newly-constructed space. The new emergency department now offers 17 all-private exam rooms – four designated for “fast track” patients with minor illnesses and injuries. Renovation of the existing space (to include new, more spacious waiting room) is now under construction and is expected to open in early fall.


Officials said the new emergency department provides 17 all-private exam rooms, four of which are designated for patients with minor illnesses and injuries. Additionally, three triage rooms and four private patient discharge areas designed to free beds quicker for incoming patients will provide more streamlined patient care with less waiting. Submitted Photo


As far as the hometown perception, he said, “It’s a different scenario when the hospital is in your own back yard. “Because SRMC is a smaller hospital, we can more easily focus on the patient’s unique needs. We have outstanding doctors and nurses. We do everything here with the exception of open heart surgery and tertiary services. If there is a need for that, we’ll make sure the patient receives the services they need.”

Some of the restructuring and improvements include:

  • Completed an expansive exterior building renovation that included repairs, re-sealing of windows and painting the building. Landscaping renovations were also completed as well as the addition of new sidewalks and outdoor seating areas.
  • Building operations upgrades included electrical and cooling system improvements.
  • Renovated OR suites and upgraded equipment to include state-of-the-art technology for kyphoplasty (the surgical filling of an injured or collapsed vertebra), and ENT procedures.
  • Began offering single-incision, robot-assisted surgery for gynecological procedures as well as several other general surgery procedures.
  • Provided numerous free screenings to the community through health fairs located in Milton, Pace and Navarre. Screenings included cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, grip strength, body fat, weight, skin cancer, and PAD as well as diabetes, breast self-exams and other health education.
  • Provides free and ongoing community health education through “Talk with the Doc” seminar series, diabetes education class. More than 1,000 people attended seminars covering a variety of topics including: PAD, sleep medicine, skin cancer, vitamins, vein disease, breast cancer, robotic surgery, heart health, colon cancer, hearing loss, aquatic therapy, arthritis and joint pain in 2015. SRMC partners with AARP to provide driver safety classes for seniors, DaVita Dialysis for kidney health, and West Florida Area Health Education Council to provide smoking cessation classes.

The Operating Room

The operating room is a place not many patients are excited to visit. The thought of having surgery is unpleasant for most. Amy Cox, director of surgical services at SRMC is passionate about both her patient’s experience and safety during their time at the hospital. She said she and her staff go the extra mile to ensure the patient’s quality of care is extraordinary. “We understand it’s a stressful time. They’re in pain, they’re uncomfortable. It’s a team effort to provide comfort during a difficult time and take extra steps for safety,” she said.

One of the recent additions is a new positioning system for the da Vinci® Surgical System. “The  da Vinci®is a minimally invasive piece of surgical equipment . It allows us to have extra hands during difficult procedures and the patient receives excellent care,” said Cox.  The hospital acquired the system about five years ago, Cox said, and the new positioning system allows for greater safety since some surgeries require the patient to be in the Trendelenburg position, which involves placing the patient head down and elevating the feet. It is named after  German surgeon Friedrich Trendelenburg, who created the position to improve surgical exposure of the pelvic organs during surgery.


Amy Cox, left, and Olivia Stanford, operating room charge nurse, right, demonstrate the new positioning system on the daVinci.


Cox said she realizes some patients, when they have an emergency or need an outpatient procedure may think of going to a bigger hospital because they think they may receive better care. She said she knows it’s just not the case anymore.

“Our employees utilize this hospital. They bring their mothers, fathers, and children to SRMC and recommend it to their friends and families. It speaks volumes,” she said. If you live in the area, why drive the extra miles when you have top of the line care right here?


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There are currently 3 Comments on Santa Rosa Medical Center’s growth is a positive attraction for city. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. The care at SRMC has greatly improved since my visit to the ER in 2015. My wife was there recently and had the best care I have ever seen. I worked in hospitals for 4 years, none of the hospitals I worked in, give the care I saw the last time she was there. Good job SRMC, keep it up!

  2. I was told this morning that a man came in to the emergency room yesterday and was bitten by a copper head snake and had to wait a hour or do to be seen why is that they are deadly

    • Snake bites are awful indeed. We hope the person you are referencing is in good health. In regards to the wait time at the emergency room at Santa Rosa Medical Center, we suggest you contact the hospital.

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