Crittenden Regional Hospital closes emergency room

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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. -- Crittenden Regional Hospital's emergency room is closed for good, and employees only had a few hours notice before it happened.

The rest of the hospital will close next month after years of debt and two crippling fires.

ER doctors and nurses took a minute to give hugs and final goodbyes on Wednesday. It was their last day.

The doors shut for good around 7 p.m.

"It is a heartbreaking time to have to close a hospital and put people out of a job," said CEO Gene Cashman.

He said the ER was shut down early.

"A lot of our vendors were reluctant to supply or staff or provide services to the hospital," said Cashman.

The word had yet to spread around town Wednesday night. Alicia White tried to go to the ER because she wasn't feeling well.

"This is the biggest mistake they could have done. For us to be a community, we should have a hospital," she said.

Instead, she's forced to go to Regional Medical Center in Memphis.

Ambulance service employees couldn't go on camera, but told WREG this will hurt them, too. It could add an extra ten minutes to the trip to Memphis, and that's if the traffic is good.

They also said more patients at Regional Medical Center mean longer wait times, and that will tie up ambulances.

WREG tried to ask Regional Medical Center about any backups, but no one returned our calls for a comment as of Wednesday night.

"The hospital will not have patients by the end of the week," said Cashman.

As Cashman told WREG that the hospital is transferring the last six patients in surgery units, Missouri Street Church of Christ members filled the parking lot.

"We cry out to you for the workers who will be losing their jobs," said a member.

They hope their prayers can save this hospital. They're hoping for a miracle.

"We pray for an answer, and we pray for an intervention," said another member.

Cashman assured WREG the clinic and hospice will remain open until the hospital closes on September 7.

When the hospital closes, more than 400 people will be without work.

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