WRHS CEO talks to White River Now about organizational changes related to COVID-19 crisis


In an interview with White River Now’s Chad Whiteaker, White River Health System President and CEO Gary Paxson (pictured above) said the organization, like all other health care providers, is having to enact organizational changes to counter the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

On Thursday, White River Health System (WRHS) released an outline of how those changes would be implemented.

In addition to adjustments including a reduction in the WRHS leadership team that will affect the executive level and directors, Paxson said WRHS “…has extended employee furloughs and implemented long-term permanent reduction of some of our staff.”  

In Thursday’s release, WRHS said part of the new changes resulted in the termination of approximately 90 employees throughout the organization.

“Everyone involved here shares in my heartache,” Paxson told White River Now. “We genuinely care about our employees, their families, and our communities.”

Paxson said the system did receive state and federal funds, but that funding did not nearly offset the system’s loss of revenue.

“The problem is the funding did not fully offset the revenue loss from things like the suspension of elective procedures and the decline in patient business for routine preventative and diagnostic care,” said Paxson. “In addition, many of the payment programs have very specific rules on how the funds can be used, making it extremely limited. Some of those funds have to be paid back over time. And we really don’t know how long this decline in volumes of revenue will occur, and if any other financial assistance will come in the future, then that makes the conservative use of what funds we have received plus expense decreases mutually necessary.”

Paxson said WRHS commitments and ability to provide excellent patient care are unwavering, and the organization’s resolve is strong.

“COVID-19 has people afraid to see their provider and visit their hospital for necessary medical treatment. But I assure you, we are taking every precaution to keep our patients and employees as safe as possible. If you need medical care for a wellness check, illness, injury, treatment…please don’t hesitate to call, and talk to your provider.”

“Medical care is what we do,” Paxson said. “We want to be your local health care provider. We will continue to demonstrate our care and compassion to you. We are here for you.”

White River Health System consists of two hospitals, 19 family medicine clinics, and 26 specialty clinics. The service area is north central Arkansas, stretching from Tuckerman and Newport to Calico Rock and Hardy, and all the towns and communities in-between.

To listen to Chad Whiteaker’s full interview with Paxson, listen below:


White River Now News Team

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