CRITTENDEN COUNTY, AR (WMC) - Baptist Memorial Hospital in Crittenden County, Arkansas opened its doors for the first time on Thursday.
The county has been without a hospital for four years.
With the opening, the hospital will provide relief for paramedics and patients.
“This is something that we’ve been waiting for a long time,” said Brian Weldon, CEO of Baptist Memorial Hospital-Crittenden. “I know the community has been waiting for this day, so we’re very excited to be able to start carrying out our mission.”
Frustrated and fed up, taxpayers approved a one-cent sales tax to pay for the new medical facility.
When the Regional Hospital closed in 2014, it forced paramedics to rush patients like Bobby Williams east across the Mississippi River.
He visited the new hospital on Thursday out of curiosity.
“I had to see what we had and what it looked like,” Williams said.
Williams is a U.S. Marine veteran and heart patient who travels to the VA hospital in Memphis.
“I’ve had three or four heart attacks and I’ve been over there at the VA but at the same time we didn’t have a hospital over here,” Williams said.
“What inspires us is our patients and our team members who take care of those patient,” Weldon said.
On the first day of admitting patients into the new hospital, administrators said they were about 90 to 95 percent staffed.
They still have several open positions, specifically in the nursing department.
The hospital includes 11 patient rooms, 10 ER rooms, two operating rooms, two trauma rooms and a cancer center that will open in the coming weeks.
“We’re a full acute care hospital so we’re able to see emergency patients whether that is for illness, injuries or other issues they may have,” Weldon said. “We’re open for business. We are ready to start taking caring of patients in Crittenden County and even outside of Crittenden County, so we are excited and ready to take care of our patients and provide a great experience.”
For more updates, follow the hospital’s Facebook page.