Hospital commission allocates $50,000 to keep ER staffed

Friday, January 11, 2019

By Samantha Jones

The Eureka Springs Hospital Commission resolved on New Year's Eve to keep the emergency room running, even if Allegiance Health Management can't afford to do so.

The commission called a special meeting on Dec. 31 to address a pressing situation in the emergency room. Chairman John House said there have been ongoing financial problems with Allegiance, saying those problems have bled into the operation of the emergency room. Doctors manning the emergency room have not been paid, House said, and some have refused to come to work because of it.

"We got to the point where the ER was close to not having coverage, and that is not allowed under the critical access designation," House said. "The local doctors were going to have to step up and start covering the hospital, and while we're willing to do that, we didn't really feel like we were qualified."

House continued, "It's really not our responsibility to do that. It's Allegiance. That's their job. That's what they’re hired to do."

House said there were two separate incidents where doctors refused to come in because they weren't getting paid, with reports that other employees weren't being paid on a timely basis. According to the minutes from the meeting, Leva Murphy moved to allocate up to $50,000 to provide wages to clinical staff for two weeks beginning Dec. 31. The motion passed, with Barbara Dicks, Christopher Baranyk and Murphy voting yes and Michael Merry voting no.

"We felt like it was crucial that we step up and make it clear we will do whatever we need to do to keep our hospital open," House said. "The hospital commission is going to do everything we can to make sure we have the best hospital we possible can."

The commission's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, at the ECHO community room.

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