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Weems to get new doctor in the house

David Adlerstein
The Apalachicola Times

Weems Memorial Hospital is about to get a new doctor.

Interim CEO David Walker confirmed last week that Tallahassee Memorial had hired Dr. David Newton, who now lives in Montana, to practice at the hospital and in Weems clinics in Carrabelle and Apalachicola.

“Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, in collaboration with Weems Memorial Hospital, has hired David Newton, MD to serve the community of Franklin County,” said Dean Watson, MD, chief integration officer at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. “Beginning in late November, Dr. Newton will provide inpatient care at Weems and outpatient care at two clinic locations. He has a passion for rural medicine and looks forward to calling Franklin County his home.”

Walker said Newton and his wife are looking forward to moving back to their home state of Florida, to be closer to family.

A 2013 graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine, in New Orleans, Louisiana, Newton became  board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine in 2016.

Dr. David Newton

This was after completing residencies at Anmed Memorial Hospital, in Anderson, South Carolina, and at Oconee Memorial Hospital, in Seneca, South Carolina.

He currently works for the Madison Valley Medical Center in Ennis, a small town in southwest Montana, south of Bozeman and just north of Yellowstone National Forest.

Newton has also been a physician volunteer, with the Mayan Indian tribes of Central America.

At last month’s county budget workshop, Walker said next year’s budget will include about $14.8 million in revenues, with about $7.3 million of that operating revenues for the hospital and ambulance service.

The county’s ad valorem tax proceeds will subsidize the emergency services about $764,252 in 2020-21, with the hospital also receiving half of the health care trust fund’s one-cent sales tax, which will amount to about $1.17 million.

Weems will also receive another $120,000 next year from the trust fund to help support the two clinics.

Assistant Finance Director Erin Griffith told commissioners that the trust fund, as of Aug. 4, had a balance of about $4.41 million.

With revenues collected next budget year through Sept. 2021, the estimate is there will be an available balance of $5.8 million in the trust fund at the end of the 20-21 budget cycle.

Walker said there was some uncertainty as to what affect any downturn in business will have on the sales tax revenues.

“The sales tax will go down a little but the COVID money, that helps out a lot,” he said.

Walker said the hospital is looking forward to bringing coronavirus testing in house by the end of August, especially since testing may ratchet up with the start of the school year.

“That’s going to be a game changer for us,” he said. “We’re trying to update our equipment that we can, especially with the additional money we have.”

Walker said a preliminary report on negotiations with the hospital’s top three commercial payors, indicates that the hospital and clinics could be receiving as much as $369,000 more the first year of the revised contracts, $433,000 in year two, and in the third year $455,000 additional.

“That’s a big bonus to us,” he said. “We had some bad insurance rates. Negotiations with these contracts have improved but they’re still robbing us.”

Walker also noted that beginning in March, Weems had whittled down from $1.2 million in outstanding billings to $95,000, although he noted that not all of that decline has resulted in revenues to the hospital.