Serving Crossett & Surrounding Areas Since 1908
Ashley County Medical Center has come a long ways from the 1908 hospital built by the Crossett Lumber Company. In February of 1947, the name was changed to Crossett Health Center. That center was located just north of the building which later became known as Ashley Memorial Hospital.
The following history of the Crossett Hospital / Crossett Health Center / Ashley Memorial Hospital was written in 1960.
The modern Crossett Health Center [modern-day Ashley County Medical Center] has a long history of service to southeast Arkansas and did not come into being overnight. It had its roots in the old hospital which was built in 1908 by the Crossett Lumber Company just north of the present streamlined structure.
The Early Years
In 1912, Dr. J.W. Spivey became director of the hospital and served in that capacity until 1944. During those 32 years he brought to the people of Crossett young, well-trained doctors, and was responsible for constant improvement of service and facilities.
In those days, before penicillin and other antibiotics, medical care was inexpensive. Crossett employees paid $1.00 per month if single, family men paid $1.75 a month for all the out-patient care their families needed. Hospitalization was on a comparable scale.
Changes Brought About by World War II
With World War II, costs for medical care and facilities sky-rocketed and 30 or more years of constant use, plus a growing population, made the hospital building and equipment inadequate.
The doctors then advised the Crossett Company toward modernization of the entire organization. The company recognized the need for change, but also realized that the necessary changes involved vast expenditure of money and that, "We've got to have someone tell us what we should do. We are not in the hospital business, but do want to provide adequate medical facilities for the people of Crossett".
Dr. Kingsley Roberts, highly recommended by the Rockefeller Foundation, was approached for advice. He sent specialists to study Crossett's needs. On the basis of their reports, Dr. Roberts recommended the establishment of the Crossett Health Foundation.
Then he advised (1) a new building, (2) continued salaried practitioners, and (3) operation on a prepaid medical care plan underwritten by the Health Foundation. So in 1945, the Crossett Health Foundation was incorporated by the late E.C. Crossett, J.W. Watzek, and A.R. Watzek.
Architects recommended by Dr. Roberts, William Lescaze and Associates of New York City, we employed to plan the center. This building was started with the feeling that a very nice plant could be put up for about $200,000. Before it was finished, the rapidly rising cost of materials at that time and the determination on the part of the Health Foundation that the building and equipment be as fine as possible, brought the final cost of the building and equipment to $735,000.00. Of that amount, the Crossett Company provided $510,000.00, plus a site. The federal government paid $225,000.00.
When the Crossett Health Center opened its doors to the people of Crossett and Ashley County, the Crossett Health Foundation had reason to feel they were offering one of the finest and best equipped hospitals for an area of this size to be found anywhere in the United States.
After completing construction of the health center, an endowment fund was established for the foundation by the Crossett Company. In addition to the financial help which the Crossett Company has given, Crossett Health Center has been considered worthy of substantial help from the Ford Foundation. Donations from Chase Bag Company, Bemis Bros. Bag Company, Simplex Company, and Textile Paper Company for the capital expenditures program have also been very helpful.
Financial Changes over the Years
Through its years of operation, Crossett Health Center has had many dark and bright hours. The bright times, in the great majority, have come hour by hour when the hospital has rendered its true service to the people of Ashley County. And, in almost all cases, its dark hours have come in connection with financial problems. Crossett Health Center is no exception to the general rule that hospitals operate at a financial loss.
The monthly losses have ranged from small amounts to $10,000.00. The Crossett Company has made up the deficit each month, so that the hospital could continue to operate.
Crossett Health Center operates under the guidance of a Board of Directors. As the needs and wishes of the community have indicated need for change, the board has made adjustments in the original plan mapped out by Dr. Roberts.
The doctors are no longer on salary, but practice on a private basis, paying the foundation for the use of office space at the health center. And the prepaid medical care plan has been discontinued to permit individuals to choose the type of hospital insurance they prefer from the long list of national companies offering such protection.
1908 – 1998: A Journey to Greatness
Although the road leading from the old Crossett Hospital has not been as smooth and sleek as the lines of the Ashley County Medical Center, the results are well worth the many hours of time devoted to the realization of a modern hospital for this area and the many thousands of dollars that have gone into its construction. Certainly the hundreds of people who are treated in it each year have reason to think so.
What began as a company hospital is now a modern state of the art medical center located at 1015 Unity Road Highway 82 East, Crossett. It opened June 14, 1998.