The Board of Governors for Mississippi County Hospital System was informed Monday that the cancer treatment facility at Great River Medical Center in Blytheville will be shutting down at the end of the month.
CEO Ralph Beaty said that while the building is owned by GRMC, the business itself was owned by Alliance and was recently sold to a company which does not intend to continue operating it.
Beaty said the building will remain open, and oncologist Dr. Kirby Smith will continue his practice there, but the center's linear accelerator will be removed and radiation therapy will no longer be offered. He added that the system contacted several hospitals, including St. Bernards Regional Medical Center in Jonesboro, but none were interested in taking on the operation of the facility.
County attorney Dan Ritchey, who was present at the meeting, said while it is unfortunate that Blytheville cancer patients will no longer be able to receive their treatments locally, the freed-up building is "good financial news" for the hospital system, which will now be able to lease out the extra office space. The change is expected to be complete by Feb. 1.
In other news for the hospital system, Dr. Brian Niles, who has been hired to take over Dr. Campbell's urology practice after his retirement, has received his license to practice in Arkansas and is only waiting to work out a passport issue with his home country before he can begin work in Blytheville. Beaty also said Dr. Pratapji Thakor, who recently opened a family practice in Osceola with his wife, Dr. Sejal Thakor, will be serving as a contracted physician to Tenaris and American Greetings, and will be holding clinic days at those facilities for workman's comp and other such issues. A temporary restriction in cash flow from Dr. Chimere Ashley's practice is expected because of a switch in billing software at her and Dr. Smith's shared facility, but Beaty said that the issue is only temporary.
Looking at the end-of-year financial statements from 2012, board members commented that this is the first time in recent memory that the hospital system has ended a year in the black. At the end of 2012, the system showed a net income of $121,738, as opposed to many previous years ended in the red.
As of Monday, the system had $1,387,699 in its operating account and $2,281,576 in accounts payable.
The board also discussed the state legislature's ongoing debate on the possible expansion of the Medicare program at a state level. Beaty said that if the program is not expanded, MCHS stands to lose a significant amount of money in Medicare reimbursements.