Region 8 Hospital Gets New Name, New Outlook

March 8, 2005 – Posted at 2:32 p.m. CST

BLYTHEVILLE -- A Region 8 hospital is breathing new life after a takeover. Baptist Memorial Health Care in Mississippi County transferred its lease to Ameris Health Systems in December.

The name change of the hospital became official Tuesday and Great River Medical Center became a part of the Blytheville community.

"It's a symbol of a successful community and it helps provide a basis for which the community can grow," said Ian Watson, CEO of Great River Medical Center.

The banner was dropped...and a new chapter in Mississippi County history was opened.

"Even though we are a county of about 50,000 people, we have a service area of about 70,000-80,000 people," said Community Relations Director Lavella McWilliams.

And many of those folks will be going to the newly named Great River Medical Center for medical treatment. It wasn't but just a few months ago that Blytheville residents were worried about where they would turn for health care, but administrators at the hospital say being community based is their number one goal.

"We see one of our major missions as reassuring the community that we can provide health care services to the level and quality they deserve, and they haven't felt that in the past," said Watson.

And things are already looking up.

"We're beginning to recruit more physicians to this area," said McWilliams, "And we're going to add some services, we're going to increase the size of our cancer center."

The hospital had a contest to come up with their new name. It was the Nursing Manager of the Emergency Room, Cresean Gist who submitted Great River Medical Center. She was also honored at Tuesday's ceremony.