Walnut Ridge breaks ground on new medical facility

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-Walnut Ridge residents are celebrating.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Thursday for the Corning Area Healthcare, Inc's new Walnut Ridge Medical Center.
This project was funded by the USDA through a Rural Development Loan worth $1,350,000.
Executive Director for Corning Area Healthcare, Brigette McDonald, says they've been outgrowing their space since they first came to Walnut Ridge.
"We actually opened the Walnut Ridge location in 2005 in the hospital," McDonald said.  "We had three exam rooms and we quickly outgrew that location.  So,  then we moved to highway 67b.  We have six exam room at that location and we've quickly outgrown that facility."
Dr. Carrie Hunter with Corning Area Healthcare says she and fellow coworkers are ready to get started.
"We're so excited about our new building," Hunter said.  "We've been in our small building down the road for a little over six years, now.  And we've literally out grown it.  We have two providers there.  At this point in time we're so busy that when patients call in for sick visits or immediate needs it's hard to get them worked into the schedule.  So, with the new building we'll be able to add at least one new provider who will be able to help us with sick call and just extend our services."
The new facility will be 9,355 square feet and create 14 new jobs.
Dr. Hunter says the added space is going to allow them to provide additional services to
patients they couldn't before.
"We're planning on having a nutritionist," Hunter said.  "To do diabetic counseling in house, which is something we haven't been able to do before.  The nutritionist is also going to be able to help with weight loss, which will be a beneficial thing for everybody.  So, we're just really, really excited about the new facility."
Mayor Don House says this project is going to mean big things for Walnut Ridge.
"This project immediately means some jobs in our city," House said.  "In addition to that, as it's developed and built there's going to be more jobs come into our city by the medical staff that's going to be expanding and is going to provide a lot of assistance to the people of our community."
Mayor House also says this project is an example of what can be accomplished when people work together.
"This facility is just one classic example," House said.  "Of government entities working together.  Making something happen in a very positive way for the people.  In addition to that, this provides along with other facilities that we have, healthcare for the rural area of our region that is in desperate need of not only better healthcare, but healthcare at an affordable price."
Dr. Hunter says she can't wait to begin working in the new building.
"I'm looking forward to having a procedure room," Hunter said.  "So that I don't have to maneuver everything in my office to be able to do sutures when I need to do that.  We'll have a dedicated area for that.  I just think It's going to make the flow of patient care a lot easier."
The clinic currently sees over 7,000 patients a year. That number is expected to increase once the new facility is open.
The new location will be on Colonial Drive.
For more information about Corning Area Healthcare, Inc., log onto their website.
Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved.