Is Arkansas Still a Problem for The Med in Memphis?

MEMPHIS, TN (KAIT)- In 2007 The Med saw nearly 2,000 patients from Eastern Arkansas.

But with the lack of insurance, many people's lives were saved at a cost of more than $10 million to The Med.

That's a cost the hospital consumes every year to continue their services.

"Come hell or high water, we are going to have the staff and the services to take care of those patients. What it does is it hampers us in terms of our keeping up with technology," said the Med's CEO, Sylvester Reeder III.

Modern technology is what makes The Med one of the top level-one trauma centers in the country.

Reeder says a problem even larger than the updates in technology is the long term effects this deficit could have on the hospital's future.

"The real worst is, you don't have enough money to keep these doors open, and the doors will close," said Reeder.

So that's why across the river in Arkansas, legislators are trying to work out a plan to make sure that doesn't happen.

"We need our own level one trauma network and level one trauma center. If we have that, then a lot of those patients that were going to the Med would be taken care of right here in Arkansas," said Representative Denny Sumpter of West Memphis.

He says making sure that Arkansans are taken care of in a time of need is a priority the state can't ignore.

"We have a lot of priorities in state government, but we also have a lot of other things that we waste money on. I just can't imagine what's more important than saving lives," said Sumpter.

But in the meantime, The Med is still the best option, and one that would be a detrimental loss if it were gone.

"There's this talk of let's stop taking Arkansas patients, let's stop them at the line. We'll never do that, but you hear that coming from people because they are fearful, and they have the right to be fearful this time," said Reeder.

And he notes that a trauma network is not just a set of buildings, it's a staff that saves lives.

"Expect a miracle. That's what I like to say our motto is. I see so many miracles here," said Reeder.

Representative Sumpter says it is his hopes that when the session reconvenes in January that plans will be put in place to start a trauma network across Arkansas which will in turn alleviate some of the trips coming over in the Memphis area.

Last year more than 200 Arkansans were flown to The Med and another 170 were transported by ambulance.

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