West Memphis Prepares To Open New Hospital


Facility May Lessen Pressure on Memphis ERs

For the first time in four years, Crittenden County, Arkansas, and its population of about 51,000, will have a hospital when its new $44-million facility opens in West Memphis next month.

After a ribbon cutting this month, Baptist Memorial Hospital-Crittenden County is scheduled to officially open Monday, December 3, at 108 West Tyler Ave. The county has been without a hospital since bankruptcy forced Crittenden Regional Hospital to close in 2014. The new 65,000-square-foot facility, which had an original price tag of $25 million, will include:

  • Emergency Services
  • Inpatient/Outpatient diagnostic imaging including CT, MRI, X-Ray, Fluoroscopy, Nuclear Medicine, Mammography
  • Two operating rooms for general and orthopedic surgery
  • Inpatient Medical/Surgical
  • Inpatient/outpatient lab services
  • Endoscopy suite
  • Eight-chair cancer and chemotherapy infusion center.

There are 11 licensed beds and 10 in-patient rooms (one semi-private room) as well as 10 ER rooms, including two trauma rooms, five triage rooms, and a five-chair results waiting area.

The new hospital, located at a different site than old one, will somewhat lessen the pressure on the emergency services of Memphis hospitals which during the last four years handled a number of cases from the West Memphis area. It will also improve the delivery of emergency care for West Memphis-area patients.

Brian Welton

Brian Welton the CEO and administrator of the new facility, said the hospital "will not likely provide any Memphis ERs a huge reprieve since patients are being dispersed to all Memphis-area ERs, as well as Forrest City, and Jonesboro in Arkansas, but it will prevent patients in the West Memphis community from having to drive very far for emergency services."

When Crittenden Regional Hospital was serving the area, the average time for an ambulance to deliver a patient was about 30 minutes. Delivering a patient from Crittenden County to a Memphis hospital could sometimes take as much as 70 minutes because of the added distance and heavy Memphis traffic. When the patient did arrive at a Memphis hospital, the wait sometimes was longer because the ERs usually were much busier than in West Memphis.

"It's been a major burden not having a hospital. It has taxed our ambulance services to death," Crittenden County Judge Woody Wheeless, told Talk Business & Politics, a monthly Arkansas print publication.

Baptist has a 10-year lease on the new hospital and a 10-year renewal option.

Baptist officials named Welton as the new hospital CEO in May, 2016.

He came to Baptist six years ago as a Frank S. Groner Administrative Fellow. After completing his fellowship, he served as an assistant administrator at Baptist Golden Triangle for 18 months. From there, he became an operations director for Baptist Medical Group, managing physician offices in Columbus, Mississippi, and Memphis. He has continued in his current role with Baptist Medical Group as he transitions to his role at the new Crittenden hospital.

Welton received master's degrees in health administration and business administration from the University of Alabama, Birmingham. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.


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