Unity Health welcomes Jacksonville community to new hospital

Ella Castle

Unity Health-Jacksonville and the chamber of com- merce held a ribbon cutting and tour, last Wednesday, for the new hospital, to open in March. “Welcome to Unity Health-Jacksonville,” Unity Health president and CEO Mark Amox said to a round of applause and cheers. Unity Health completed $40 million in renovations […]

Unity Health-Jacksonville and the chamber of com- merce held a ribbon cutting and tour, last Wednesday, for the new hospital, to open in March.

“Welcome to Unity Health-Jacksonville,” Unity Health president and CEO Mark Amox said to a round of applause and cheers.

Unity Health completed $40 million in renovations of the first floor of the building, at 1400 Braden St., after purchasing the North Metro Medical Center, after it closed three and half years ago.

The Jacksonville hospital has a modern emergency room, 13 exam rooms, has labs, full radiology with imaging services such as CT, MRI and 3-D mammograms, a five-bed observation unit and a 24-bed behavioral health unit for ages 18 to 65. The medical center has already hired 112 full-time employees. It plans to renovate the second and third floors, which will include operating rooms and additional in-patient care beds

Amox said, “We are excited to open the doors to this community in a few short weeks. We worked through a global pandemic, supply chain issues and construction setbacks. However, we remain dedicated to the project every step of the way. We have built a hospital to serve the health care needs of your community.”

“It is filled with our compassionate, caring and knowledgeable associates, who are here to care for you and your loved ones, as their neighbors,” Amox said.

Unity Health board president Janet Hines said, “We built Unity Health-Jacksonville without occurring any debt.”

Mayor Jeff Elmore said, “It is a great day for Jacksonville. We’ve been looking forward to this for some time. Former Mayor Bob Johnson worked hard and tirelessly to help make this happen. Former Mayor Gary Fletcher paved the way and got it ready for the city to prepared for this to take place. The hard work was done, prior to my arrival. I’m grateful to these men.”

“Our citizens deserve world-class health care without leaving town. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Unity Health and what they will be bringing to our city,” Elmore said.

Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce chairman Dustin Cole said the stigma of the previous hospital is gone. Unity Health-Jacksonville has the latest equipment with great people, running it. This will help recruit new businesses and bring new families into town.

Unity Health-Jacksonville administrator, Kevin Burton, said, “When you walk in, you are going to be blown away. And wait until meet our team.”

Burton said former Mayor Johnson contacted Unity Health in 2019 about acquiring the facility.

“We recognized a need for a hospital in this community. It has been a long process. We wanted to be a part of this community and give world-class care,” Burton said.

Burton thanked Johnson, Larry and Mike Wilson and the community for bringing Unity Health to Jacksonville.

Bob Johnson said, “This brings tears to my eyes. The people of Jacksonville are blessed to have this state-of-the-art facility. It is unmatched in this area. The growth they have planned; it’s jobs, it’s the good health of our community that is at stake here. Unity Health is taking it seriously. The hospital is gorgeous and top-notch.”

Johnson’s father, the late Dr. J. Albert Johnson, was among the hospital’s first physicians when the facility was Rebsamen Hospital, opened in January 1962.

“I grew up playing in this hospital. It means the world to me, to see my dad’s hospital,

doing what it is supposed to do — saving lives,” Johnson said.

“It meant the world to the residents when it was built. Now, it has new, modern technology,” Johnson said.

Gary Fletcher said, “This hospital has an emergency room as nice as any hospital in central Arkansas. I’m excited about the opening, and when Unity Health expands into Phase 2, I can see the need for hotels, which will bring in restaurants and stimulate economic development and growth.”

“Unity Health is well managed, has stability and deep pockets. We are really blessed to have a hospital a few blocks away, instead of getting on the freeway and driving,” Fletcher said.

Unity Health is an Arkansas- based non-profit healthcare system. It started in Searcy 56 years ago, as a county hospital. It has not been bought or sold. Unity Health is part of the Mayo Clinic health network.

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