Last April, the Times reported on a plea from doctors in Hope to save the hospital there, the only hospital between Arkadelphia and Texarkana for people who live along Interstate 30. Its former owner, James A. Cheek, had been convicted in Texas for bankrupting another hospital and doctors could see the pattern being repeated. They wrote Gov. Beebe:
“In recent months, the obstetrical unit was closed, layoffs have occurred, hospital employees have experienced delinquent paychecks or paychecks returned for insufficient funds, premiums on employee health insurance is not being paid, creditors and vendors are not being paid, property taxes have not been paid. In fact, MPH is scheduled to be certified to the State of Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands in May 24, 2012 for failure to pay property taxes. Presently, MPH owes some $3 million in unpaid federal and state employment taxes.”
The Texarkana Gazette today reported [subscription required] that Scott Duane Cheek, James Cheek's nephew, was arrested for stealing $157,108.60 in property, including hospital beds, over bed tables and cabinets by moving them to another hospital and replacing them with inferior property in 2010.
Hope is not now without a hospital; a federal bankruptcy court approved its sale in August to Brim Holdings of Texas, which operates Wadley Regional Medical Center in Texarkana, which loaned the Hope hospital $1.3 million to keep it open.