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NARMC in Harrison to Cut 3% of Workforce

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North Arkansas Regional Medical Center of Harrison said Thursday that it will close some clinics, combine others and cut 3% of its workforce as it struggles with rising costs.

The 120-bed medical center warned earlier this week that it would have to realign operations to deal with “inadequate payments from health insurance plans that fail to support essential services.” 

It counted itself among rural hospitals facing similar situations around the country, and said it is trying to address operating expenses to cover inflation in various areas.

“Unfortunately, 30% of rural hospitals in the United States face the risk of closure, according to the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform,” the hospital said in a news release. “Since February 2023, there have been 42 hospitals that are closing departments or ending services according to Becker’s Hospital Review.”

In a statement late Thursday, the hospital said it would close some services and move some to telemedicine. Specifically, the hospital said it would:

  • Temporarily end services for Center for Memory Mood & Thought, its inpatient geriatric behavioral health unit.
  • Move all urgent care services to its Med Plaza in Harrison.
  • Close two rural health clinics in Marshall and Lead Hill, moving those services to telemedicine or at other NARMC providers in Harrison.
  • Seek workforce efficiencies through “an overall reduction of 3% in the workforce.”

The nonprofit health care provider said it has 750 employees working at its central hospital in Harrison and at 18 clinics in north Arkansas.

“This is a necessary organizational realignment to ensure future success and continued growth,” President and CEO Sammie Cribbs Roberson said in a news release. “We extend genuine appreciation for the dedication and contributions of our affected employees. Our commitment to providing support and assistance to individuals impacted by these changes remains unwavering during this challenging period.”

According to Arkansas Business’ list of largest hospitals and medical centers, NARMC reported $89.1 million in net patient revenue and a net loss of $8.7 million for its fiscal year that ended March 31. It was the 25th largest hospital in the state ranked by net patient revenue. 

The hospital said it has been working for 18 months on a realignment plan to address overall expenses it said are almost three times greater than additional revenue.

“Hospital and Clinic services are reimbursed based on contractual agreements with insurance companies and the hospital receives only a small percentage of the actual charges,” the hospital said in a news release. “Usually, the hospital receives less than 30% of the total charges. Many times, the insurance company is not reimbursing the hospital enough to cover the actual cost of providing the care.”

Still, the hospital cited an increase in total clinic volume of 12%. But with other clinics reporting a “significant decline in volume,” hospital leaders decided to close and combine some operations.

“We are working with our patients and providers in the impacted areas to transition care and we will ensure each patient has access to care in the NARMC system,” the hospital said. “For those who prefer not to travel, telemedicine services are also available.”

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