Saying he and UA Cossatot Chancellor Dr. Steve Cole had met with hospital employees Tuesday morning, De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown announced at Tuesday’s city council meeting that the hospital, despite being open, was not seeing or accepting patients, and that the emergency room, while also open, was still on ambulance diversion and was not treating or accepting any patients either.
“We’ve talked to the hospital staff and they can’t see any patients,” Brown said.
Inside sources say that for a couple of weeks there have been no doctors or nurse practitioners working the emergency room and that people that come into the ER are given directions to other hospitals or that 911 is called.
The sign out front of the hospital has not been covered or removed though, meaning those in dire straits, unaware of the situation, may drive for miles arriving and expecting emergency services, only to find the ER non-functional. Hospital officials have offered no notices to the public despite the situation festering for weeks.
Brown said that those seeking emergency treatment should call 911.
“They want the public to know there’s nothing they can legally do,” Brown said of the staff that he met with. “They are legally open, they just can’t see patients. That’ kind of where it stands.”
The medical center has been on life support for months now, having parts of its electric shut down in February before the bill was finally paid and service was restored. Most of the facility's departments have shut down as well. Employees have been receiving their paychecks as many as 12 days late and while they received a check today that was due on Feb. 22, it was only half of what they were owed. Employees are due another check on March 8.
This story was corrected at 4:48 p.m. Employees checks received today were due on Feb. 22, not March 1.