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Fort Walton Beach Medical Center Expanding Emergency Care To Navarre

Jennie McKeon

Residents in Navarre will soon have their own emergency room — a first for the unincorporated area.

Fort Walton Beach Medical Center (FWBMC) recently announced an expansion of care to south Santa Rosa County with a $10.1 million freestanding ER.

The ER will be located at 8600 Navarre Parkway, near the foot of the Navarre Beach causeway. A sign reading “Future site of NavarreER,” is posted at the location. According to a press release from FWBMC, the ER will be a one-story, 10,860-square-foot facility with 11 emergency exam rooms, CT scan, general X-ray, and an on-site laboratory.

This is the second freestanding ER for FWBMC, with the first being in Destin. Denise Kendust, director of communications for the medical center, said the project has been in the works for the past five years as the need for emergency care was growing.

“We were looking at the growth in the area, and we have a lot of patients from Navarre,” she said Tuesday. “It’s an underserved population.”

Currently, Navarre and its roughly 39,000 residents seeking emergency care have to travel 20 miles to FWBMC, or 16 miles to Gulf Breeze Hospital. And that can make a difference for first responders and locals.

“I went to the Gulf Breeze Hospital when I unexpectedly went into labor,” said Daria Yackwack, who is stationed in Navarre with her husband, who works at Hurlburt Field. “And then, I still had to be helicoptered to Pensacola. Now, having a newborn, I appreciate having one closer.” 

Credit Fort Walton Beach Medical Center
A rendering of the front entrance of the NavarreER.

At the Holley-Navarre Senior Center, a handful of residents, including Paula Bares, were getting ready for lunch. Bares has lived in Navarre for 10 years. She recalls one time she wished an ER were closer.

“See this?” she said, pointing to her thumb. “I got it stuck in a garbage disposal and went to urgent care. The doctor fixed me up, but said I needed to go straight to the emergency room. It wasn’t life or death, but it would’ve been nice to have one closer.”

NavarreER is expected to serve more than 10,000 patients a year, says FWBMC. The facility also will employ about 30 full-time healthcare professionals.

Jennie joined WUWF in 2018 as digital content producer and reporter.