Citizens came out to tour the facility, and learn about the many services the complex offers. Refreshments and family activities were also offered.
Cherokee Village Mayor Lloyd Hefley opened the event by saying, "White River Medical Center Complex is a lot more than just a clinic for us here in Cherokee Village. It offers us a smorgasbord of medical services." Hefley then turned the podium over to Richard Huff, who was a former respiratory therapist in the old Cherokee Village hospital, who served on the original WRMC board responsible for the establishment of the current facility.
Huff explained that, after the hospital closed eight years ago, there were a lot of people who were concerned about the lack of health care in Sharp County. "For years, people talked about it, and finally I decided I needed to do something. I was approached by Joe Walls, who said White River was forming a board and he would like me to serve on it."
Huff said he agreed but said, "I have got to see results, and Joe assured me there would be results. It wasn't very long until I saw White River had a plan. I was very excited. We raised some money to furnish the facility and things started happening. Unfortunately, still today, people say we need this or we don't have that or this is what we should get. I wish that we would all come together as a community and support what we do have. We have a wonderful facility, a lot of services are provided."
Huff went on to provide details on the many services the facility has offered the area since its 2007 opening. These include x-rays, mammograms, bone density tests, ultrasounds, CT scans and lab services. "You do not have to travel, these services are all here," Huff said.
In 2009, WRMC added new services including carotid artery testing, echo cardiograms and colonoscopies. WRMC laboratory services 5,000 patients a year, and the facility's Urgent Care has seen over 25,000 patients in the last five years.
"There is alot going on right here at home with a great staff of doctors and nurses." Huff said.
WRMC has specialty doctors who come to the clinic on a regular basis for such things as wound healing, orthopedics, urology, general surgery and obstetrics and gynecology, pain management, cardiology and podiatry. These physicians are in the office on a regular basis.
"All of the services are because of WRMC's huge investment in the community. Where would we be without them? How many miles and hours have been saved by residents who do not have to travel for these procedures?" Huff asked.
Gary Bebow, CEO of White River Health System spoke to the group reliving the dedication of the facility by Governor Beebe in 2007. "He praised the facility as a prototype communities of this size should be building to meet the healthcare reform needs at that time."
Bebow explained that WRMC has been in the Sharp County area much longer than the WRMC complex. He said they began their presence in the mid 80s with the first clinic in Cherokee Village, and have since continued to expand services and add doctors.
After the hospital closed, Bebow explained WRMC started working with the Sharp Medical Foundation, a group of local business leaders and professionals, to try to figure out the best approach for the delivery of care in the area.
After the studies, Bebow said there were five major findings, with the most important being the need for emergency services, not the availability of a hospital.
Citizens were also very concerned about traveling for diagnostics and therapeutic services. They wanted more specialists in the area to decrease travel time.
The consultants' findings were that residents would use a hospital, for minor health problems if it provided quality of care.
Based on the financial projections of reimbursement at the time the study was conducted five years ago, Bebow said WRMC determined that a hospital could not survive with existing reimbursement methods.
Bebow said, "We just did not feel that the approach of reopening or building a new hospital was sustainable, and so we went on to explore the best approach for delivery of health care which we realize today through this facility."
"I think we have followed the road map the consultants have recommended." I am so proud for you to come out and share this day with us.
WRMC Medical Complex, the new name on the facility's sign, is a symbol of WRMC's continued commitment to Sharp County residents.