Conway Regional Health System will assume control of the 35-bed hospital in Dardanelle effective today, officials announced Friday.
The hospital, which previously was known as Dardanelle Hospital and River Valley Medical Center, will be renamed Dardanelle Regional Medical Center. It joins a central Arkansas system comprising numerous clinics, a home health agency and a 150-bed acute-care hospital.
"Our two hospitals share a mission of providing quality health care to the communities we serve," Matt Troup, Conway Regional Health System's president and chief executive, said in a statement about the move.
"First and foremost, our focus is to be encouraging and supportive for a vibrant future for the Dardanelle community. ... As we enter into this management arrangement, our primary objective in the early days is to ensure we safely provide patient care," the statement said.
A primary-care clinic on Fourth Street in Dardanelle also will be combined with the medical center's outpatient clinic and folded into the new management structure, which has an initial term lasting through the end of this year.
According to previous reports, the Dardanelle hospital recently had been in financial distress under operator Allegiance Health Management of Shreveport, which also runs a hospital in Eureka Springs, the operator's website says.
In March, the Dardanelle hospital's governing board asked a U.S. District judge to appoint a receiver for the facility, citing serious financial problems that the board said put patients at risk.
"The hospital's blood supplier is owed monies from over 120 days ago and is about to shut off the hospital's blood supplies," the board's attorneys wrote.
"Vendors are no longer supplying basic lab supplies and radiology supplies to the hospital because [the hospital] cannot pay its debts. Vendors are also repossessing lifesaving equipment, including a ventilator."
The parties later asked the judge to table the request, saying they hoped to resolve the matter out of court.
That same month, the board reached a preliminary settlement with Allegiance Health Management, according to a news release. The settlement ended Allegiance's lease for the hospital facilities, which had been set to expire in 2022.
Before that agreement, the six-member board of governors of Dardanelle Hospital of Yell County had reached out to Conway Regional Health System to gauge its interest.
Under its new management, the Dardanelle hospital will retain its staff, and the Conway Regional Health System's chief operating officer will assume the role of site administrator.
The hospital is near the Arkansas River, and it was unclear Friday whether it had been affected by the river's historic flooding or a levee breach in nearby Holla Bend.
Calls to the hospital seeking an update weren't immediately returned, and a Conway Regional Health System spokesman didn't provide more information Friday evening.
The facility, founded in 1965, is one of two hospitals in the county. It's a little more than 5 miles from Saint Mary's Regional Medical Center in neighboring Pope County.
Information for this article was contributed by Bill Bowden and Linda Satter of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Metro on 06/01/2019