CHEROKEE VILLAGE, AR (KAIT) - A month ago Wednesday, the White River Medical Center opened up the first 24-hour emergency room in Sharp County since the closure of the Cherokee Village hospital.
WRMC began construction in February and opened its doors June 23. Since then, the ER has seen almost 1,000 patients, many of those trauma patients.
"We have seen way more patients that we had predicted," said ER clinical manager Tabitha Breshears-Krueger.
Breshears-Krueger said she first estimated nurses and doctors would see about 20 patients a day. They see at least 30.
"We are very, very excited with the response we've gotten from the community," said Breshears-Krueger.
The demand has already caused the facility to increase its 22-person staff. It will hire at least three more nurses.
The facility has also seen an increase in ER-type cases.
"We're seeing a lot of chest pain, we're seeing a lot of trauma patients," said Breshears-Krueger.
In a month's time, the staff has seen the impact of being the only ER in Sharp County. Breshears-Krueger said the new location is sometimes the difference between life and death.
"We've had some patients that I think if they've had to travel 45 minutes to an hour down the road, they wouldn't have made it," said Breshears-Krueger. "They would have been in cardiac arrest if they've had to travel further."
Now the Cherokee Village ER staff can stabilize these critical condition patients then fly them to a different hospital for additional treatment.
"Then they were able to go home so that touched us a lot," said Breshears-Krueger. "We were able to provide that immediate, life-saving care."
The ER now has a 24-hour lab, X-ray, CT scan and staff.
"We have sick patients here and we're able to take care of them," said Breshears-Krueger. "People come in and tell us how glad they are that we're here. They thank us for being here. It's wonderful. Our nurses feel revived and recharged because we get hugs from our patients, and I know, myself, it makes me feel great."
Breshears-Krueger said the ER staff is also collaborating with local law enforcement and EMS to teach first aid training.
The staff will also work with the Northeast Arkansas Children's Advocacy Center in Jonesboro to teach Sharp, Fulton, Lawrence and Izard counties how to better serve abused children.