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White Hall holds hospital groundbreaking

by I.C. Murrell | October 20, 2022 at 2:52 a.m.
Jefferson Regional President and CEO Brian Thomas makes remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the White Hall specialty hospital Wednesday near the Jefferson Regional Wellness Center. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

Jefferson Regional Medical Center officials took one step closer to bringing a hospital to White Hall on Wednesday afternoon.

Hospital officials, along with contractors and city leaders, turned over the dirt to commence construction of a $55-million, 84,000-square-foot specialty hospital near its Wellness Center on West Holland Avenue that will house 40 inpatient rehabilitation beds and 36 behavioral health unit beds. The new facility, which is expected to be completed by early 2024, allows Jefferson Regional to make some space within its main campus in Pine Bluff, hospital board chairman Scott Pittillo said.

"Jefferson Regional has had very strong growth," Pittillo said. "When you look at what we have done recently with our investment in cancer [care], the Monticello area with that acquisition, this truly is a springboard for what I think we have become. This allows us to reposition some space within the hospital and better plan for that long-term, and it definitely allows us to establish a footprint in the northern part of the county, for sure."

The price tag, as cited by hospital President and CEO Brian Thomas, is $10 million more than an estimated figure given in June, when the Jefferson County Quorum Court approved a lease extension of the Pine Bluff and White Hall campuses through Dec. 31, 2099.

"Today is a proud moment for Jefferson Regional," Thomas told visitors. "It's a proud moment for Jefferson County, and it's certainly a proud moment for White Hall. This is a significant investment in our community. This project represents a significant milestone for the patients throughout southeast Arkansas."Thomas also estimated more than 200 will be employed at the specialty hospital when it opens.

Among the features of the inpatient rehab hospital: all patient rooms will be private with their own private bathrooms; intensive, specialized rehab services will be dedicated to the treatment and recovery of those who have experienced a loss of function to an injury or illness; and a transitional living apartment will be included to help prepare patients for daily living tasks before discharge.The behavioral health unit will feature inpatient and outpatient services for adults and seniors, crisis stabilization and triage for acute mental health and substance use disorders, and alcohol and drug detox programs.

The idea for the specialty campus, Thomas added, began in the early phases of the covid-19 pandemic."As Jefferson Regional was deep in the development of its strategic planning for its own specialty campus, we were on a path to relocate both our inpatient rehab and psych services," Thomas said. "That strategy was going to cost in excess of $25 million and virtually provide no growth opportunity for the patients of these two service lines."

LifePoint Health manages the inpatient rehab program and will control 40% of ownership in the specialty hospital. Jefferson Regional will own the other 60%.

  photo  Contractors, Jefferson Regional Medical Center officials and city officials ceremonially turn over the dirt for a new 76-bed specialty hospital near the Jefferson Regional Wellness Center in White Hall. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

Print Headline: WH holds hospital groundbreaking


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