West Memphis Broke Ground on New Crittenden County Hospital

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Crittenden County in Ark. and Baptist Memorial Health Care in Memphis, Tenn. broke ground on a new hospital in Sept. 2016 in West Memphis with the project slated for completion in late 2018.

The 50,000-square-foot hospital will have a budget of $25 million, and the architect on the project is Earl Swensson Associates Inc. of Nashville, Tenn. The general contractor for the project will be chosen soon, according to Brian Welton, chief executive officer and administrator of Baptist Memorial Hospital-Crittenden in a statement.

The county is excited about the new hospital, especially after the closing of Crittenden Regional Hospital in 2015. The closure of the hospital was a major blow to the community with regards to healthcare access. 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 recent statement.

There is currently almost no equipment available for emergencies in the entire county — not even a CT scanner. Patients have to drive to Memphis for their health care needs. With a population of about 51,000 with about 25,545 of those located in West Memphis, Crittenden County needs this new hospital.

Hospital services at the new facility will include an emergency room, cancer care, a laboratory, imaging and diagnostics. It will not include obstetrics initially, but there is the potential for this later, according to Welton, which many staff are hoping for. While the facility will be smaller than Crittenden Regional, it will be state-of-the-art and easier to find, Welton said.

While the old hospital closed due to financial issues, the new hospital is being funded by the local community. Crittenden County voters approved using a one-cent sales tax for five years to finance construction on the project, according to a statement.