The Mena Hospital Commission met Thursday night at the hospital in Mena for their regular monthly meeting. Before routine business and agenda items were discussed, Chairman David Gilbert introduced several people from Baptist Health, including President and CEO Troy Wells, and Regional President of Forth Smith Baptist Health Harrison Dean, and invited them to address the board about a possible acquisition of Mena Regional Health System by Baptist Health.
Wells said that Baptist had been approached by Mena Regional Health System and that at this time there was no time frame or specific plan in place, only talks about a possible acquisition. Wells also spoke favorably about the local hospital and touched on the difficulties rural hospitals are having.
Hospital board members Leon Philpot and Judith Roberson both commented out of concern for the current hospital staff, should there be a takeover by Baptist. Philpot noted that the employees were the biggest asset of any organization like Mena Regional Health System, and Roberson expressed concern about growing anxiety among the staff and said she wanted to make sure none were "kicked to the curb" if the hospital was taken over by Baptist. Wells assured the board that while there may be some changes, they would be minimal. Wells said the most significant change would be going from a hospital owned by a governmental entity to one in a larger group that is a faith based organization.
No action was taken before the board transitioned to their regular business. About two dozen people were in attendance, including State Representative John Maddox, Mayor Seth Smith, hospital attorney Danny Thrailkill, several Mena Aldermen and one Quorum Court member.
The Mena Hospital Commission is made up of members appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council, and includes David Gilbert, Judith Roberson, Tammy Young, Paula Brotherton, Dr. Carlos Rocha, Michael Myers and Leon Philpot.
Baptist Health was originally established by the Arkansas Baptist Convention and will be 100 years old in February of 2021.
1-23-20 7:31 p.m. KAWX.ORG