Study finds NARMC among top 10 least profitable hospitals at start of pandemic

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 5:28 PM CDT
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - As hospitals across the country have been struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic, an Arkansas Business article lists the top 10 most profitable and least profitable hospitals.

The North Arkansas Regional Medical Center in Harrison has 120 beds and 577 employees. It was listed among the top 10 least profitable hospitals in the report.

The article says NARMC lost $2.97 million for its fiscal year ending March 31, 2020. NARMC is one of 25 hospitals in Arkansas that reported a net loss.

”That surprises me, yes, I always receive good care there” said B.J. Forehand, who receives all of his care of at NARMC and is satisfied with the service.

Other patients not as surprised by the findings.

“Their lack of care for patients and personal experiences I’ve had, they don’t really care about their patients,” said America Cordova, who claims she once waited eight hours for care at NARMC.

”I’ve been here several times and there’s lots of great people that work here,” said an anonymous patient. “I’ve been to the ER here and the ER in Branson, and I just like it [in Branson] better.”

NARMC recently won several awards from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences for its work in EMS, community outreach, and stroke care. They use a program call AR Saves, which links the emergency room doctors to trained stroke specialists at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

This allows patients in rural areas to receive care for stroke 24 hours a day.

”Our organization is proud of the work, and we hope the community respects that we’re providing some pretty high-level stroke care right here in Arkansas,” said Vince Leist, President/CEO of NARMC.

The hospital says the biggest reason for the loss is expenses for COVID-19 preparation.

”We were spending money like crazy to bring contract staff in, to buy equipment to make negative pressure rooms,” said Leist. “On March 16, we opened our large testing facility out north, at our new office complex. We were in the midst of spending a lot of money.”

And pandemic aside, profits are difficult enough for a small rural hospital. Medical facilities have been dealing with high labor costs and increasing costs of supplies.

“In the last 10 or 11 years, this hospital has tripled its cash reserves and reduced its debt by half, so the financial health of the hospital is fine,” said Leist. “Patients have to come back to the hospital to get their care. Constituents have to know we have a safe environment for them to do that.”

As for the bottom line, NARMC says that’s already improving as well.

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