Major Medical Merger in Region 8

July 1, 2004 -- posted 12:00 a.m. CDT, updated at 7:09 a.m.

Jonesboro, AR -- Regional Medical Center of Northeast Arkansas is now being referred to as NEA Medical Center; it's a joint venture between the Jonesboro based hospital and NEA Clinic.

"We felt as if we needed to return the hospital back to local control because we believe this hospital strengthens the community," said NEA Clinic CEO Jim Boswell.

Although NEA Medical Center and NEA Clinic now share a similar name, administrators say that does not exclude St. Bernards Medical Center, which is also in Jonesboro, as being part of their equation.

"We are a big supporter of St. Bernards and will continue to be and the doctors will practice at all the hospitals in Jonesboro," said Boswell.

The joint venture will translate into a big financial investment as well.

In just the first year alone we have 3 million dollars that will be reinvested back into the hospital and into the community," said Boswell.

"Our motto has always been quality, value and choice for our patients and we think that culture will go together with this institution to help bring that here as well," said Medical Director Dr. Steve Woodruff.

The merger of the two medical facilities becomes effective today.  Despite the partnership agreement,  majority ownership of the hospital continues to be held by Triad Hospitals of Plano, Texas.