Baxter Health, Fulton County, Ark. Hospital using state funds to “ensure sustainability” – KAIT

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (KY3) – Multiple hospitals in Arkansas will receive millions of dollars from the state’s Rural Hospital Sustainability Program.
Baxter Health in Mountain Home received $1.8 million, and Fulton County Hospital in Salem, Ark., received $2.5 million, combining for more than $4 million.
Throughout the last few years, Baxter’s Emergency Department has only gotten busier, with more patients daily.
“Over the past ten years, we’ve increased about three percent a year. That starts to add up. it seems like this year we’ve definitely been on a growth pattern,” Baxter Health President and CEO Ron Peterson explained.
The hospital plans to use some money to revamp the emergency department and add more rooms.
“Going from 23 to 29 rooms. Being able to have five urgent care, fast track type rooms that will help patients that are not quite that true trauma patient or emergent patients to be able to come in and get out quicker,” Peterson said.
The county operated Fulton County Hospital until August 2023, when it signed an agreement for Baxter Health to operate the hospital to keep its doors open.
“They had implemented a new financial system. They were having a lot of difficulties sending their financial bills out to the insurance companies, so the cash flow was very limited,” Baxter Health CFO Debra Henry stated.
After the agreement was signed, Gov. Sanders allocated state American Rescue Plan funds to Baxter Health to acquire the hospital.
Now, the hospital will use the new $2.5 million to update the hospital form when it was built in 1963.
“No electrical update has been done to it since 1963,” Peterson explained.
Baxter Health leaders said the hospitals must remain open because, without local healthcare, many people won’t travel far to receive it.
“If you’re 85 years old and have to drive three hours to get healthcare on a routine basis, you’re not going to go, and so you’re not going to get that care,” Peterson said.
That’s why the recent state funding is crucial to the future sustainability of both hospitals.
“What we believe is this gives us the money to invest in the future so that we can be sustainable and be here to serve outpatients,” Peterson stated.
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