Rural hospital at risk of closing

Updated: Feb. 14, 2020 at 5:31 AM CST
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CALICO ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - A small town in Izard County is concerned about the future of its only hospital.

The Izard County Medical Center was established in 1952 and is one of Calico Rock’s biggest employers, providing jobs for roughly 100 people.

Those employees are now concerned if the hospital will be able to stay open.

Doctors and nurses work at Izard County Medical Center in Calico Rock.
Doctors and nurses work at Izard County Medical Center in Calico Rock.(Source: KAIT-TV)

In early January, Americore Holdings, LLC, which owns Izard County Medical Center, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The news blindsided not only hospital employees, but the entire town.

That includes Doctor Robert Lane, who has practiced medicine at ICMC for more than half of his life.

Dr. Robert Lane has worked at Izard County Medical Center since 1970.
Dr. Robert Lane has worked at Izard County Medical Center since 1970.(Source: KAIT-TV)

"We need the hospital. The hospital needs the town,” Dr. Lane said. "It's a very close-knit community."

According to court documents, Americore Holdings acquired ICMC in July 2017.

At that time, the hospital was already experiencing financial troubles.

“We were looking for a way to preserve the hospital,” Dr. Lane said. “We had an offer from a fella to buy the hospital.”

Now, two years later, the bills have piled up. Region 8 News obtained numerous documents, including complaints, receipts and letters from attorneys outlining those bills.

According to documents, Americore entered into an agreement with Calico Rock Med to lease the hospital building and the property.

The lease required Americore to maintain commercial property insurance.

Notices and receipts included in court documents show that Americore allowed the liability insurance to lapse for several weeks.

Americore also owes $465,854 in unpaid rent, putting the property owner behind on taxes by $43,939 due to the lack of payment.

“We have had difficulty in securing pharmaceuticals simply because of lack of money,” Dr. Lane said.

Now, those money problems are affecting more than the hospital and employees, it has caused a ripple effect.

Lucas Hudson is a fourth-generation employee of the White River Healthcare Nursing Home.

"We've been here almost as long as the hospital,” Hudson said. "We're literally two miles away."

Many of his residents rely on ICMC.

“Instead of an ambulance having to take them 30 minutes away from Mountain Home, Mountain View they’re here real quick,” Hudson said.

According to Hudson, the convenience of the hospital is crucial to elderly residents at the facility especially those with dementia.

“When they’re able to see a physician they’ve seen all their life, that’s calming to them,” Hudson said. “We need the hospital, bottom line.”

As for Dr. Lane, he is not sure what is going to happen but does know one thing for sure.

“If the hospital were to close, I would probably retire,” Dr. Lane said. “I have no plans to retire if the hospital stays open.”

Court documents also revealed that Izard County Medical Center is not the only hospital the company owns that is in trouble.

In fact, only one other hospital owned by Americore is still open at this time.

Region 8 News has reached out to Americore, but they have not returned our calls or commented on the situation.

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