On June 1, 2019, amid a historic flood, Conway Regional began management of the newly named Dardanelle Regional Medical Center. Conway Regional Health System and Dardanelle Regional Medical Center came together during a statewide disaster and have continued to support one another during a national pandemic.
“Our partnership with Dardanelle Regional Medical Center is central to being a regional provider of care and our mission of providing high-quality, compassionate care,” said Matt Troup, President and CEO of Conway Regional Health System. “We believe that health care is local, and even during state-wide flooding we wanted to ensure that healthcare remained in Dardanelle.”
As the Arkansas River spilled over its banks near Dardanelle, it was imperative that the medical center had access to equipment and supplies. Conway Regional brought those supplies to support the community.
Dardanelle and Conway Regional staff volunteered to help city officials with flood control, including filling sandbags and clean-up efforts.
Once the flood waters receded, Dardanelle Regional resumed standard operations. “It was our top priority to get to know the community and assure them of our support,” said Alan Finley, Conway Regional’s chief operating officer and site administrator of Dardanelle Regional Medical Center.
After the initial six-month management agreement, Conway Regional and the Yell County Board of Governors for Dardanelle Regional agreed to extend the management agreement into 2020. This spring, both hospitals were on the frontlines of an even larger health crisis. In March, cases of the COVID-19 global pandemic began to spread into the United States and, in turn, Arkansas and the River Valley.
One of the strategic actions taken by Conway Regional’s leadership team was the relocation of its Senior Behavioral Health Unit to Dardanelle Regional’s Senior Behavioral Health program. The creation of an isolation unit was imperative in ensuring the health and safety of Conway Regional patients and staff members, as well as lessening the spread of the virus. Conway Regional also relocated senior behavioral health services, along with several staff members, to Dardanelle to ensure the safety of the Conway unit’s patients who are among the at-risk population for life-threatening complications from COVID-19.
“This has been a very collaborative process with the management of both units and the staff. It certainly increased our census and associated revenues at DRMC, and it enabled CRMC to create an isolation unit for COVID-19 patients, which was crucial in protecting patients and staff,” said Finley. “Since that time, we have been admitting senior behavioral health patients from the Conway Regional service area to DRMC, and it has been very beneficial to both organizations and both communities.”
Finley described the mutually beneficial situation:
- Both medical centers began testing for COVID-19 patients, and those who needed extensive care were transferred to Conway Regional’s COVID-19 isolation unit.
- The relocation of senior behavioral health to Dardanelle has enabled the patients to continue receiving the high-quality care they need, while removing a vulnerable group from an area where COVID-19 patients are being treated.
- Dardanelle Regional demonstrated its capability to expanding its services to accept regional patients, and in turn, the City of Dardanelle put in an order for PPE that benefitted not only Dardanelle Regional and Conway Regional, but other area hospitals and clinics as well.
- This PPE helped Dardanelle Regional and Conway Regional ensure the health and safety of patients and staff.
“I’d like to say a special thank you to Dardanelle mayor Jimmy Witt who organized a large PPE purchase by the city of Dardanelle that benefited multiple healthcare organizations in Yell and Pope county, as well as Conway Regional Health System” said Finley. “During this unprecedented time, we were especially uncertain about the availability of PPE. The order included 50,000 Level 1 masks and 25,000 KN95 masks that were imperative to both facilities.”
Health officials at Dardanelle Regional and Conway Regional began receiving the masks the first week in May.
Troup cited the pandemic response as an example of how the partnership has benefited both communities. “It is through partnership that we strengthen each other through any challenge,” said Troup, “As Conway Regional and Dardanelle Regional stand on the frontlines of COVID-19, I could not be prouder of how we have come together to answer the call to serve. We will come out of this even stronger on the other side.”