Despite a struggling economy and a $2.3 million loss in 2008, Baptist Health Medical Center-Arkadelphia is doing well, according to Greg Stubblefield, vice president and administrator.

Stubblefield, who was recently named Arkansas Hospital’s 2009 hospital administrator of the year, reported a $1 million-plus turnaround last year, and said the hospital is on track to get another half million dollars. It even won some awards in 2009 for outstanding healthcare, and the non-profit organization was able to advertise some.

Despite a struggling economy and a $2.3 million loss in 2008, Baptist Health Medical Center-Arkadelphia is doing well, according to Greg Stubblefield, vice president and administrator.
Stubblefield, who was recently named Arkansas Hospital’s 2009 hospital administrator of the year, reported a $1 million-plus turnaround last year, and said the hospital is on track to get another half million dollars. It even won some awards in 2009 for outstanding healthcare, and the non-profit organization was able to advertise some.
The 2008 loss was a result of fewer patients and an increase in bad debt among patients able to pay their medical bills but do not.
At the end of that year and throughout last year, Stubblefield said the hospital went through steps “to tighten our belts,” containing costs in labor and supplies.
Though he would not disclose the number of layoffs, he said cuts were made across the board, and the facility is staffed “more appropriately” for the volume of patients. The number of patients “rebounded,” he said, allowing more employees to return to work. A total of 165 people work at BHMC-A, he said. “We haven’t brought back everybody.”
As for supplies, he said policies were put in place to avoid wasteful practices. “It’s not much different than home,” he said. “We’re just making sure all of our supplies are being used rather than wasted.”
Bringing additional staff back on board would require more local support, he said. “Unfortunately, people think of us as a ‘Band Aid’ stop and instead go to Hot Springs or Little Rock” for medical needs. “If we can’t treat you, we will get you to the right place.”
Hospitals in smaller cities have faced financial dangers, and some have recently closed or come near shutting down. Pike County Memorial Hospital in Murfreesboro has closed its doors, and voters in Hot Spring County passed a tax a couple years ago so the Hot Spring County Medical Center in Malvern could continue operating.
Stubblefield said the Arkadelphia hospital faces no danger of shutting down. He doesn’t predict that Clark County voters will have to make such a decision. “We just don’t want to get to that point.”
But there’s always room to grow. “We look for the community to support the hospital. Every patient helps. If people (in Clark County) supported the hospital the way they do the cafeteria, we would do well.” He said he has seen a positive trend in local support over the past few years. “The perception has gotten better. It’s gotten better, but it’s not where it needs to be.” In the past, an average of about 74 percent of the hospital’s patients were from Clark County. “I would love that number to be 85-90 percent,” he said. “We’re very appreciative of the support we already have.”
Stubblefield said a number of factors set BHMC-A apart from other area hospitals.
Satisfaction surveys sent out to patients who have made a visit to the hospital indicate that several local people wouldn’t go anywhere else, he said. The surveys outline four categories of clientele: in-patient, out-patient, emergency department and ambulatory surgery. Based on last year’s averages of all four categories, the hospital ranked among the 80 percentile mark of a database of 1,700 hospitals nationwide.
The facility offers X-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, ultrasounds and nuclear medicine. It also offers general surgery, ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgery and ophthalmology (eye surgery).
“What sets us apart is we have two hospitalists who are board-certified in internal medicine,” he said. Hospitalists are doctors who act as medical liaisons between patients and doctors. Dr. Lorene Lomax and Dr. Robert Coye are employed as BHMC-A’s hospitalists. “Most small communities with hospitals don’t have hospitalists. Having them here is a big plus.”
In terms of the hospital’s medical staff, Stubblefield said they are “second-to-none” in terms of training and knowledge base. “The perception is that bigger is better. It’s just not the case. At other hospitals, you don’t get the same personal, hometown touch as in Arkadelphia.”
He said the weaknesses include the lack of an open-heart surgery program and a neurology program. But such programs are put into hospitals based on community support, he said. There are plans for expansion, but those plans are delayed because of a lack of patients.
The growth or decline of a hospital, he said, is in “direct correlation to patient volumes.”