Designation change means hospital expansion plans need adjustment

A recent trip to Washington, D.C., only cemented even more what Eureka Springs Hospital Commission chair Kent Turner already felt: Original ideas in the planned expansion of the hospital are no longer feasible with recent changes to the facility’s designation.

Turner told his fellow commissioners at their monthly meeting on Monday, May 20, that the trip to Washington allowed him to schedule a “dedicated” meeting with U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas regarding possible federal funding for the project.

“The thing that came to light is that we have got to relook at the hospital plan,” Turner said. “We’re not going to be able to convince anybody to give us the amount of money for a hospital that was inpatient originally, and now we’re going to convert it to a hospital that doesn’t do inpatient. And, we need to take a look seriously at a lot of the other parts of the building that may not be necessary or may not need to be as expansive.

“… We need to cut the size of the building down. That’ll cut the cost of the building.”

Original plans by architects called for $53 million to $55 million to fund the project. But, that was before the hospital’s designation changed from a Critical Access Hospital that includes inpatient services to a Rural Emergency Hospital aimed at emergency evaluations, treatment and service.

“I don’t feel comfortable asking for $53 or $54 million for a hospital when I know in my own mind that there’s a good percentage of that hospital we don’t need.” Turner said.

The project, whatever scope it ends up, has the support of Boozman, Turner said, adding he has also been in frequent contact with U.S. Rep. Steve Womack’s office regarding funding opportunities.

“They had some suggestions, some comments,” Turner said of Boozman and his staff. “… I’ve gotten lots and lots of comments from both Boozman’s folks and Womack’s folks about clinic. I think we need to focus on external clinics and room for external clinics. …That’s kind of a different thing. We could get some revenue off that, signing contracts out to other doctors that have their own staff. We would just provide a very nice facility for them.”

Recent input from architecture students at Kansas University will still help in the redesign, Turner said.

“I really appreciated what the people from KU did,” he said. “… They did a fantastic job and their designs were incredible. We may be able to steal some ideas out of those.”

A June 1 scheduled hospital commission workshop will be spent focusing on the topic, Turner told commissioners.

“I wasn’t overly optimistic, but I wasn’t totally put off,” he said. “Boozman has been the way he’s always been. He looked at his three staffers that were there and said ‘help these people get that money.’ And then he told two of them, ‘I want you to go to Eureka Springs and see that hospital.’”


Hospital CEO Angie Shaw’s monthly report to commissioners included results of two recent audits at the facility.

The Arkansas Department of Health visited the hospital on Tuesday, May 14 after the facility received a complaint, she said.

“They came in to do an audit due to some complaints they had received regarding our facility,” Shaw said. “They did a complete investigation, and I’m happy to say those complaints were unfounded.”

The nature of the complaint wasn’t discussed at the meeting.

“During their investigation they did uncover a few minor deficiencies that were corrected at the time of the finding,” Shaw said. “We should be receiving a report from them within the next few weeks. Once we receive the report, I’ll have 10 days to respond and we will go from there.

“Honestly, I feel like the audit went extremely well and I’ve been through a few of them. They found maybe five or six little minor things, and like I said, they were corrected on the spot. And honestly, this is the first audit we’ve had since 2019.”

Commissioners also learned about the results of a recent “Legislative Cybersecurity Audit,” something that is a requirement for a recent grant the hospital received, Shaw said.

“This past Friday I met with the auditor… They conducted their audit back in January and contacted me last week to set up discussion on what their findings were as they pertain to the nine cybersecurity standards.”

Auditors determine how hospitals rank compared to other facilities around the same size, Shaw said.

“Our facility was even with two other facilities our size,” she said. “There are areas that we can make improvements ..”

Several of those issues will automatically be resolved as the hospital continues to transition into its new Cerner health information technology system, she added.