ER or hospital? Sharp County's medical question

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

CHEROKEE VILLAGE, AR (KAIT) - From anywhere near the Hardy-Ash Flat corridor it is at least 30 minutes to a hospital by ambulance. When the patient is seriously injured or having a heart attack, those minutes are golden.

So the question is, does this part of Sharp County need a hospital or will a 24 hour emergency room be sufficient?

White River Medical Center North Complex Administrator Joe Walls says the lack of a facility is tough on patients and the crews who have to move them.

"Right now it's really hard on the ambulance service because they are having to go to Salem, Batesville, Pocahontas or Walnut Ridge or Mountain Home or Jonesboro or somewhere else to take a very critical ill patient."

The lack of a 24 hour emergency room is spurring on two groups in Sharp county.

One side which includes several mayors and the county judge says they would be happy with an ER.

The other camp says we need a hospital.

Phyllis kates is a transplant from Indiana.

A heart attack in 2007 and the time it took for transport and care difficulties at a small hospital prompted her to get involved in the hospital.

"After that situation I thought it was imperative that we have a hospital and maybe that's why it happened to me. Sometimes you wonder why, I felt I was in good physical shape."

The area has not had an ER or hospital since the Eastern Ozarks Hospital closed several years ago. But just up the road is the White River Medical Center North Complex. A facility that could become an emergency room due to the way it was designed.

Walls, "I use it for an urgent care clinic, also we use it for an out patient services for our specialists who come here and for a G.I.lab."

If they decide that want an emergency room at the White River Medical Clinic here in Cherokee Village the facility is already in place. It would just be a matter of hiring the staff to run 24/7.

Walls said he could have staff in place in about a month. It's just a matter of money, lots of money.

No facility whether an ER or a hospital could make it without support from the county or city it is in.

Hardy's Mayor Nina Thornton says they are looking into ways to raise a million dollars for the ER operations.

The hospital foundation is in the feasability study stage for now.

Kates, "We have to find out if it can be done and then very very slow steps work our way through the process."

Hospital or ER, both sides are working toward the same goal.

Thornton, "Get where everybody has a place to go to get stabilized right on the spot immediately and 24 hours a day."

Both groups anticipate the question of a hospital or ER and a millage percentage to be on the November 2010 ballot.

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