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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — After financial losses, fire and a special tax passed to support it, Crittenden Regional Hospital is closing.

The hospital is no longer admitting people, and will close September 7.

We are told clinics located within the hospital are looking for alternatives.

In a statement, CEO Gene Cashman said, “With counsel from national health care consulting firms and the passage of a county-wide sales tax, we had identified a long-term strategic plan that had set our organization on a path to improvement. This summer’s fire and the subsequent shut-down derailed that plan’s success.”

WHAT ARE THE FACTS? | “Our situation is simply not sustainable”

The hospital reopened recently after extensive repairs were done following a fire in June.

At last report, the hospital was $23 million in debt.

Recently, Crittenden voters approved a one-percent tax to raise about $6 million a year over five years to fund the hospital.

That tax has not been and will not be implemented.

Brenda Wilkins, who lives in West Memphis, found out about the closure on Monday.

“It would be really bad on a situation because we don’t have any hospitals around this area that’s close enough,” Wilkins said.

“We’re not taking new patients, and those patients that we currently have will be transferred appropriately to other facilities,” Cashman told WREG.

More than 400 employees will lose their jobs and be forced to work elsewhere.

“It’s a hard day. I mean it’s a heartbreaking day and my heart goes out to every single one of our employees,” Cashman said.

According to Cashman, there were 2,285 rural hospitals in 1992 and there are currently about 1,953.

WHAT WERE EMPLOYEES TOLD? | Crittenden Hospital Closure

The following is an internal memo to hospital staff:

Employees of CRH,

For nearly five years, the Board of Trustees and leadership for Crittenden Regional Hospital have been exploring avenues for a solution to the hospital’s financial challenges. Those challenges are well known in our community. More recently, the Board has been meeting in order to consider the remaining viable options for the future of the hospital. Until last night, we did not have a decision on that future.

Because of insurmountable obstacles, we have made the difficult decision to halt all operations at Crittenden Regional Hospital, and permanently close our doors. Even with funds from the sales tax scheduled to take effect later this year, our situation is simply not sustainable as a business.

Despite our best efforts, the combination of challenges we’re facing – a changing healthcare industry, a recovering economy and one of the toughest reimbursement climates in the nation – continues to place mounting financial pressures upon our organization. With counsel from national healthcare consulting
firms, we had identified a long-term strategic plan that had set our organization on a path to improvement. This summer’s fire, and the subsequent shutdown, derailed that plan’s success. It was a devastating blow at a time when we could least afford it. The sales tax campaign was a tremendous testament to the community’s support, but unfortunately, funding from the tax increase would not reach our hospital until December 23, well beyond the date our resources can sustain us.

As of today, we will stop admitting patients at Crittenden Regional Hospital. We will close our doors permanently on September 7, 2014. CRH clinics and home health services will close September 5. In the interim, we will continue serving patients who are already admitted to our hospital, or through home health, to ensure they continue to receive the highest quality care and treatment until they are discharged. If patients require inpatient care past September 7, we will work with them and their families to arrange for the continuation of care at another healthcare facility or agency.

We recognize that the individuals most impacted by this announcement are all of you and your families. CRH is home to many dedicated, talented employees and physicians, who have served patients and their families here in Crittenden County for the past 60 years. We will make every effort to help you with this significant transition. Our efforts will include: face-to-face meetings with you to provide details on the hospital’s transition and to answer your questions; helping you prepare for an employment search, such as interview counseling and resume workshops; and hosting a job fair on the CRH campus. We are already engaging with Methodist, as well as other healthcare entities in surrounding communities, regarding job opportunities.

We are committed to being transparent in this process, both with you and with the West Memphis community. As we have more information to share, we will. In the meantime, your manager will be meeting with you individually or in small groups to discuss the details of the transition, next steps, your future plans, and the ways in which CRH can assist you. Thank you for your dedication and support to our hospital during the most difficult of times.

Eugene K. Cashman, CEO