CRITTENDEN COUNTY, AR (WMC) - For the last few years, people in the West Memphis area have been without their own hospital.
But that will change soon, as Baptist Memorial Hospital in Crittenden is entering its final construction stages.
Baptist Memorial Hospital will soon be ready to treat its first patient in just a few short months.
Wednesday, hospital and community leaders gave WMC5 a tour inside.
"This will be a frosted glass wall, and this will all be an emergency room waiting space," said Brian Welton, CEO of Baptist Memorial Hospital in Crittenden.
Welton has spent the last year learning the ins and outs of construction.
"I have learned a lot," Welton said. "I've learned a lot about construction that I never thought I'd learn."
He didn't have much of a choice as the incoming CEO and administrator of the hospital, which is under construction in West Memphis.
"A lot of planning, a lot of preparation, thinking about what's best for the patient and designing it for how healthcare is going to be delivered in the future," Welton said.
Once completed, the hospital will include 11 patient rooms, 10 ER rooms, a cancer center, two operating rooms, and two trauma rooms.
"We definitively were at a point where we thought this might never happen," said Crittenden County Judge Woody Wheeless.
Wheeless said when the Regional Hospital closed in 2014, it left the area without a hospital of its own, forcing paramedics to rush patients east across the Mississippi River.
"They were accustomed to having a 30-minute or less turnaround time when the hospital was open," Wheeless said. "Now those hospital turnaround times are anywhere from two upwards to six hours, getting their patients off their stretcher and getting that ambulance over back here in Arkansas."
Frustrated and fed up, taxpayers approved a one-cent sales tax to pay for a new hospital.
Crittenden County and Baptist teamed up for the project, and soon the hospital will provide much-needed relief for paramedics and patients.
"Our whole county worked together," Wheeless said. "Our whole county government worked very, very hard to try to make this day a reality."
The new hospital is set to open in December 2018.