"Well, of course you worry, and you just hope everything is going to turn out," said Pat Little as she waited for news on her brother's condition.
Little's brother was brought to White County Medical Center with heart problems. It was a 30 mile drive just to get there. It would have taken two hours to get him to Little Rock.
"In an emergency that would be too far to go, if it was a real, real emergency," said Little.
The rural hospital is the first line of defense for people in six counties and a safety net for the uninsured, medicaid and medicare recipients.
"Those types of patients depend on hospitals, often times the emergency room to provide their primary care," explained WCMC CEO Ray Montgomery.
Montgomery estimates 80 percent of ER patients in his hospital could be seen by a primary care doctor, if they had one. Instead, the hospital absorbs the cost for care, but even that has a limit.
"We don't even get paid cost for that Medicaid patient, so every patient that we see on the Medicaid side, we're still losing money, and then you have the charity care that we're getting almost no money at all," said Montgomery.
This year, the White County emergency room had a record-breaking 50,000 patients.
"Hospitals, historically, have been very resilient, but I've never seen the alignment of these pressures on hospitals, and I've been in the healthcare business for 40 years," said Montgomery.
A rural hospital opens its doors to everyone, and if those doors are to remain open, Montgomery believes the state has to expand Medicaid. However, the state senator that represents the rural community is on the opposite side of the Medicaid debate.
Senator Jonathan Dismang is considering what would happen if that extra 38 percent was not covered by Medicaid but instead given the opportunity to buy subsidized private insurance.
"The max that their premium could be is two percent of their annual income," explained Sen. Dismang (R) District 28.
Private insurance pays more, so the senator says it's possible the hospital could make money instead of losing it as with Medicaid.
"There is actually some additional revenue for the hospital for the folks that in between the 100% and the 138% if they're on private health insurance," said Dismang.
Looking at those same numbers in the long-term, Montgomery disagrees.
"If we're in that approach currently and for the future that probably makes sense, but it's going to change. I can guarantee you it's going to change," said Montgomery.
Two very different opinions. One will likely win out in the Capitol. Which one is anyone's guess.
"I believe at the end of the day, they'll do the right thing. It's a difficult business decision, but what's important here is we're talking about lives," said Montgomery.
Wednesday, June 19 2013 12:31 PM EDT2013-06-19 16:31:23 GMT
HOT SPRINGS - A 1997 Ford pickup was pulling a Buick Park Avenue on a utility trailer eastbound on Albert Pike Road Tuesday afternoon when the car came off the trailer and flipped upside down.More >>
HOT SPRINGS - A 1997 Ford pickup was pulling a Buick Park Avenue on a utility trailer eastbound on Albert Pike Road Tuesday afternoon when the car came off the trailer and flipped upside down near the entrance to the Atrium Retirement Community.More >>
Wednesday, June 19 2013 10:25 AM EDT2013-06-19 14:25:43 GMT
CONWAY (Log Cabin Democrat) - A monkey made its way through parts of Conway for a short time Tuesday afternoon after escaping from a veterinarian clinic. Conway Police were able to track down the monkeyMore >>
A monkey escapes from a vet for a short time in Conway. More >>
Tuesday, June 18 2013 3:28 PM EDT2013-06-18 19:28:42 GMT
Catholic High is undergoing some upgrades this summer. Demolition is going on in the hallways to make for new technology. Principal Steve Straessle said while there's no replacement for good teachingMore >>
Construction crews are adding new windows and doors as well as demolishing some of the hallways to make way for new technology.
Bob and Barbara Schmidt dashed to their home on a dirt road in a heavily wooded area northeast of Colorado Springs as smoke from what would become the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history filled the air.More >>
A new wildfire in the foothills southwest of Denver forced the evacuation of dozens of homes Wednesday as hot and windy conditions in much of Colorado and elsewhere in the West made it easy for fires to start and spread.More >>