MIRAMAR BEACH — Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast was evacuating patients to Sacred Heart Hospital Pensacola on Tuesday as Hurricane Michael approached the Panhandle.

The patients were being taken to Pensacola by ambulance or helicopter, according to individual needs, said Mary Jo Gustave, marketing and communications specialist for Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast.

Such evacuations are routine when local authorities issue a mandatory evacuation order, Gustave said. Walton County authorities issued a mandatory evacuation order on Monday for areas of South Walton County between Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, where Hurricane Michael is expected to produce significant storm surge.

In addition to evacuatingpatients, Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast stopped admitting new patients Tuesday afternoon, according to a news release from the hospital.

The hospital's emergency department will remain open during Hurricane Michael, but will not accept patients with minor illnesses or injuries, according to the release.

Elsewhere, Fort Walton Beach Medical Center will remain open during the hurricane, according to marketing and public relations director Denise Kendust.

However, the hospital's emergency clinic on U.S. Highway 98 in Destin, Destin ER, was to closing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Kendust said.

Beginning Wednesday at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, all entrances will be closed except for the emergency entrance. That doesn't mean the hospital will only see emergency patients, but that the only access will be through the emergency department, she said.

Other health agencies and facilities also announced plans in advance of Hurricane Michael:


All Florida Department of Health locations in Santa Rosa County closed at noon Tuesday and will remain closed through Wednesday. The closure includes Pro Med Dental clinics in Milton and Midway. Services are scheduled to resume at their regular times on Thursday. Clients may call the Health Department’s Milton location at 850-983-5200 Thursday to reschedule clinic appointments. To reschedule dental appointments, clients may call 850-564-2248.
Some White-Wilson Medical Center clinic locations closed early Tuesday, and all of the White-Wilson clinics will be closed Wednesday.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System's outpatient clinics near Eglin Air Force Base and in Panama City Beach were closed Tuesday and will remain closed Wednesday. All canceled appointments will be rescheduled.
Magnolia Medical Clinic in Fort Walton Beach will be closed Wednesday.