By Roxanne Squires
WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. – The highly anticipated $45 million joint project between Crittenden County and Memphis-based Baptist Memorial Hospital has finally reached completion – marking the major milestone with a November ribbon-cutting event.
The hospital has been much needed ever since the previous regional hospital closed due to financial issues, leaving Memphis as the only option for medical care.
The closure of the hospital was a major blow to the community. Many physicians — specialists and primary care doctors — left town once the old hospital closed, so those physicians who remained were left with an excessive patient load. “More than 400 people lost their jobs,” said Aaron Mitchell, MD, MBA, of Mitchell Family Medicine in nearby Marion in a past statement.
However, through community support, the new Baptist Memorial Hospital-Crittenden has been supported by a voter-approved sales tax – generating $30 million over a five-year period.
Following nearly four years of being without a hospital, Crittenden County will now gain a new 65,000-square-foot, one-story facility that will be licensed for 11 inpatient beds, and will also include 10 emergency department rooms, two trauma rooms, two operating rooms, one endoscopy suite and eight cancer-infusion chairs.
Baptist Memorial Hospital will also offer a radiology lab, CAT scan and MRI labs.
According to Jason Little, CEO of Baptist, the new hospital will be able to accommodate 25,000 emergency department visits annually.
Although the hospital will be smaller than the former Crittenden Regional, it will be state-of-the-art and easier to find, according to Brian Welton, CEO and administrator of Baptist Memorial Hospital – Crittenden.
“It takes a community to make a hospital successful, and the commitment here is great,” Welton said in a local news report. “It’ll be a brand new hospital that is easy to find, so people can get out and on with their daily lives. Nobody wants to be at the hospital, but we want to meet their needs.”
The architect on the project is Earl Swensson Associates Inc. of Nashville.
A groundbreaking was held September 2016 and the new hospital will begin taking patients in December 2018.