AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2004-CONTINUED
Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, it has recently come to my attention that there is urgent need to construct a new medical facility with the associated water and sewer capability in Heber Springs in my home State of Arkansas.
Heber Springs is located in the medically underserved rural part of north-central Arkansas. It is the only hospital in Cleburne County and surrounding areas providing treatment for local citizens.
Mr. KOHL. Just to make sure I understand, this is a medically underserved area?
Mr. PRYOR. Yes, this 34-year-old facility is the only one in this county and surrounding areas. Secondary facilities are approximately one hour in driving distance. Additionally, the population of Cleburne County and secondary service areas have grown more than threefold during the past thirty-four years.
Mr. KOHL. What are the numbers of emergency room visits for that increased population?
Mr. PRYOR. The emergency room experienced over 8,000 visits during 2001. This volume of patients cannot be managed safely or efficiently in a thirty-four year old emergency room with a four patient capacity. Additionally, the hospital operated on 851 patients in 2001 with only one small preoperative room available and three beds available for recovery. The volume of outpatients reached 13,649 in that year. The current facility has been found deficient by both the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the Arkansas Department of Health.
I would request that this community be included in the conference report under the Rural Community Advancement Program (RCAP) for the Community Facility Loan and Grant Program and the Water and Waste Loan and Grant Program for consideration of funding for a new facility with water and sewer assistance.
Mr. KOHL. I thank the Senator for making me and the committee aware of Heber Springs' situation and I will work with you to address these issues in conference.
Mr. PRYOR. I thank you for consideration of these requests.