Fulton County Hospital in the US has announced a definitive agreement to join the Baxter Health System following a unanimous decision by its board.

The transition will be facilitated by Baxter Health’s continued management of the hospital for the remainder of this year, with the execution of a long-term lease by 1 January 2025.

This strategic move is the result of a unanimous vote by the Fulton County Hospital Board in August 2023 to sign a letter of intent for a management agreement with Baxter.

The recommendation for this integration came from Alvarez & Marsal Public Sector Services, consultants for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

They supported Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and state legislators in determining the allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to hospitals.

Baxter Health president and CEO Ron Peterson said: “Helping Fulton County Hospital is another example of how Baxter Health is meeting its purpose to champion access to compassionate high-quality care by adding and enhancing services offered by the critical access hospital right in their community. We look forward to continuing to serve the patients of Fulton County for generations to come.”

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Since assuming operational oversight six months ago, Baxter made significant improvements in the hospital’s service delivery.

This includes increased volumes in swing bed services and endoscopy procedures.

Furthermore, Baxter Health’s management aided in optimising the revenue cycle, tackling compliance issues such as price transparency, and generating positive cash flow.

These services enabled Fulton County Hospital to settle debts with suppliers, meet payroll commitments, and repay substantial loans to local banks.

Fulton County Hospital interim administrator Anthony Reed said: “In the challenging landscape of critical access hospitals, where resources are scarce, Baxter Health has stepped in to bridge that gap.

“We brought to the table a wealth of resources in financial management and operational strategies.

“The team at Fulton County Hospital has demonstrated remarkable openness and willingness to collaborate with Baxter Health.”

Earlier this year, Baxter Health announced plans to commence a project to renovate its Cline Emergency Center.