New tenant for old hospital?
New tenant for old hospital?
in a former hospital building in Fayetteville, Wheeless said.
“They took over a hospital in Fayetteville and did the same thing they are wanting to do here,” Wheeless said. “There is a need out there for this.”
Wheeless said the building would not be turned in to a prison.
“I was hesitant when they first mentioned what they wanted to do,” Wheeless said.
“First thing I said — just live everybody else — was we don’t need a prison here. But this place won’t even be fenced in. The females who are there wear scrubs like you would see in a hospital. So it’s not like you will be seeing barbed wire and prison guards. It doesn’t work that way.”
Crittenden Regional Hospital closed in August 2014 and declared bankruptcy.
The county has been spending about $100,000 a month to keep the utilities on, security, and insurance on the building.
The Quorum Court has given Wheeless until March 1 to find a new tenant or else close the building for good.
Wheeless said local state representatives met with skeptical physicians and business owners this week to explain the plan and everyone walked away satisfied.
“They told me the perception at the meeting when they walked in there was one thing — which was a prison,” Wheeless said. “But when they walked out the door the perception was entirely different and they were supportive.” Wheeless said he has also spoken to representatives from Baptist Memorial Health Care and they are also supportive of leasing the building for a drug rehab center.
Baptist is proposing to build a new $25 million, 50,000 square foot hospital which will open in 2018.
Wheeless said if the deal is approved the new entity would assume the cost of the utilities by March 1. The new lease holders would also make all necessary improvements to the building.
“There are some roof repair issues. They saw all of it.
They are aware of it,” Wheeless said. “I told them we were turning off the lights March 1 and they said they would be ready to have it switched over by March 1.”
The lease would be for one dollar a year.
Wheeless said deal would not only keep the building open and free the county of any further maintenance costs, but provide jobs as well.
“From our perspective, I think it is a situation where we will be able to help people and create jobs,” Wheeless said.
“And it will eliminate that liability that we have been paying for the last 15 and 16 months, plus somebody else will be responsible for that facility. I think it is a good situation for us to be in, especially this late in the ball game because w are cutting off the power in two weeks and calling it quits. This coming up is a blessing for somebody to use that facility.”
Justice Lorenzo Parker called it a “silver lining.”
“I think 130 jobs is great and it is a viable option that we need to pursue,” Parker said.
“And if we have the doctor’s blessings, why not?”
Other justices agreed.
“I’ve been one of the loudest about closing the hospital,” said Justice Ronnie Sturch. “If we have something like this in the works, then I think it is a great plan. All I want to see is that we have a viable option or a plan.”
“I think we ought to go with it,” Justice Stacey Allen added.
“Sounds good to me,” Justice Ronnie Marconi agreed.
Wheeless thanked the justices for their hard work on the hospital issue.
“I think we have a potential situation here that will be good for our community,” Wheeless said. “A lot of hours have been put in this from 2014 to where we are today.
But I think every bit of it in the end will be worth the headaches and heartaches we have been through. I see nothing but good things happening for this community as a result of everyone seeing that vision and working together. You have done a great job. You’re always looking out for the county.”