Renewed Push to Open West Memphis Hospital

CRITTENDEN COUNTY, AR – There is a renewed push to reopen a hospital forced to close in east Arkansas.

After a fire and reputed financial mismanagement, Crittenden County Regional in West Memphis is getting a chance to reopen again.

“We would keep and they would have to send invoices to us before we would give them any money,” says Judge Woody Wheeles.

Last year when voters were asked to approve a one percent sales tax to keep the hospital open, they thought that money would be enough to save the place.

Judge Woody Wheeles says this time, language around the tax would specify what happens to that tax should the hospital close and state how the money would be handled.

“That being said, the taxpayers would be able to know exactly where every one of their tax dollars went to,” says Wheeles.

Wheeles has faced questions on his Facebook page regarding the possibilities of Ameris taking over the hospital.

Like this post, “So what you’re saying is all proceeds of the tax go towards upkeep and maintenance? The private company Ameris would not receive any of this money?”

Crittenden Regional’s been closed for about eight months. In that time the county has paid around $100 thousand a month in utility and maintenance bills at the facility.

This is what the hospital looks like eight months after it closed. It’s still in inhabitable condition, but to get an idea of what time can do to a facility, here’s what it looked like before it closed early last year.

“We’re in dyer need of getting our hospital back open,” says Wheeles.

Wheeles says while the place isn’t brand new it still works. But needs a new roof and a new heat and cooling system. $30 million from the sales tax over five years would help take care of that.

“There’s still a lot of bad feelings about what happened last year. We’re trying to do everything possible to get things right this time,” says Wheeles.

Crittenden County must also handle the debt situation on the hospital before any of this can happen. Money has been secured to cover a $5 million bond but a $1.4 million bond has yet to be satisfied.

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