POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) -For several years, the future of the hospital in Pocahontas has been in question.
After dealing with troublesome management companies, the city took over the management of the hospital in 2007 under the umbrella of the Public Building Authority.
Tuesday, that all changed again as the city officially bought the hospital and received all the keys.
"From my perspective, there isn't any change in the structure. We still operate under the city council and under the oversight of the governing board. So, today was really more about securing the long term financing of the hospital. "
John Tucker, the CEO for Five Rivers Medical Center was in the audience today as Pocahontas Mayor Gary Crocker and city council officials and USDA administrators signed the final paperwork to purchase the hospital for the city.
The 40 year loan for over 7 and a half million dollars will keep the hospital open for the community and the county.
Mayor Gary Crocker says, "The citizens have finally got control of the hospital after nearly 30 years of not owning the hospital, and it's just a big event for us to do that. "
Although not particularly large with 42 beds, the hospital serves an area that needs to have a good medical facility close at hand. It has an expanded E.R. and a CT scanner in a semi trailer attached to the hospital.
I spoke with a patient who says it would be difficult for him to drive a long way to get the medical services that 5 Rivers provides for him here. Charles Crawford was in for a CT scan after doctors suspected he may have suffered a small stroke. Being on oxygen full time and having a wife in the early stages of Alzheimer's limits the time he can be on the road for medical treatment.
Crawford didn't know about the purchase, but he is glad the facility is in Pocahontas.
"Saves a lot of long driving. (How far would you have to go for the treatment you received today?) I'd have to go to St. Bernards or Poplar Bluff."
Jeffrey Spencer works for the USDA and helped with the Rural Development loan process. He's also a local and says towns like Pocahontas need their hospitals. One to make it easy for family members to be with patients in the hospital and for economic reasons.
Spencer says, "For the jobs that are created, for the local economy off the side businesses that come from the operation of the hospital. So I think for the economy it's very important for the people that live here."
Crawford says, "I hope somebody gets it to where it will be here and we have that service for the rest of our time you know."
They did it for you, Mr. Crawford, and a lot more people as well.