SEVIER COUNTY, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – Residents in Sevier County, Ark. have been without emergency services since May. This Tuesday, they’ll decide whether to change that and build their own hospital.
Two measures will be on the ballot. If both pass, together they will fund the construction and maintenance of a new hospital. “In order for this place to grow, you’ve got to have some type of healthcare around the clock,” said Sevier County Judge Greg Ray.
Ray said plans include a 12-bed facility with room to grow. “In Arkansas, it’s the law, you can’t have a stand alone ER like you can in Texas.”
On the ballot, voters will see a measure that would allow the sale of up to $24,250,000 in bonds and another proposal for a 1% sales tax. “The city of De Queen right now is 9.625%, that will put the city of De Queen at 10.625%,” said Ray. “Out in the county, it’s 8.625%, which would bring it to 9.625%.”
The area’s long time hospital, De Queen Medical Center, closed earlier this year. Though the county was granted receivership, Ray said renovating the old facility is just not feasible. “There was 12 to 15 liens against that hospital … then the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pulled their license, which made it impossible for anybody to reopen that hospital.”
If the measures pass, Ray said the new hospital would be located about four miles north of De Queen on Highway 71, next to Lee Lane.
If voters approve the hospital proposals on Tuesday, officials said a board composed of Sevier County residents would oversee hospital operations.
Election day is October 8.