De Queen (Ark.) Regional Medical Center, expected to close today, will operate at least through Monday having extended a contract to outsource its emergency room. City lawmakers continued negotiations over a bond issue to buttress the 25-bed critical-access hospital, making it more attractive to potential buyers. The pressure to reach a resolution was significant. "We're out of cash and out of time," hospital Administrator Bruce Bennett said. Residents approved a 1% sales tax increase to fund the issue, but Mayor Dale Kesner vetoed the City Council's resolution to put the plan in place, Bennett said. Kesner was unavailable for comment. The hospital employs 150 people in 110 full-time-equivalent positions and had 16 doctors with full-time privileges, Bennett said. If the hospital closes, the city's 5,800 residents would need to travel about 35 miles to reach another hospital, he said. -- by Paul Barr
Critical-access hospital may fend off closure
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