In 1958, the only Medical Doctor (Dr. Guenthner) practicing in the Salem area announced plans to leave Salem and practice in Mountain Home. It became apparent to the people in this area the need for a physician to replace Dr. Guenthner. Dr. Carl B. Arnold came to Salem, and located in the facility formerly used by Dr. Guenthner. Dr. Carl B. Arnold expressed the need for a hospital. At the time, it was common for people in this area to travel 50 miles or more for hospital care. In 1961, the voters of Fulton County saw the need for better health services and voted 2-1 in favor of issuing tax bonds to match monies from the Hill Burton funds made available by the Federal Government to build the areas first hospital. There were many personal contributions, including the land donated by Dr. Carl B. Arnold and Dr. David Ducker.
Fulton County Hospital became a reality in 1963. County Judge Oren Haney appointed the first Hospital Board of Governors consisting of eight men from Fulton County and gave them the responsibility of constructing the building. The Board of Governors was: Jack Cochran, Chairman; G.T. Humphries; Jim Humphries; Jimmy Miller; Charlie Short; E.R. Carroll; Reece Smith; and Wilford Brown. March 21, 1963, Fulton County Hospital opened its doors with 22 patient beds. Mack Harbour was the administrator with a staff of 18 people. Dr. Carl B. Arnold was the only staff physician at the time. Dr. David Ducker joined in June of 1963 upon completion of naval obligations. Health Service increased rapidly during the next few years. The Hospital added Dr. James Davis, Dr. Charles Tucker, and Dr. A.T. Walker to the medical staff. In addition, the Hospital experienced four expansions.
In 1968, the second emergency room and a new surgery suite were added. The new operating room brought Board Certified Surgeon, Dr. Jack Langevin. This addition made the facility " the most modern small hospital in the state" according to The Salem Headlight. The 70's also brought the addition of an ambulance service. Other additions in 1975, and 1978 brought new bed accommodations and support expansion. As time progressed, Dr. Davis, Dr. Tucker, and Dr. Walker left the facility and Dr. Michael Moody, Dr. Jim Bozeman, Dr. Thomas Benton, Dr. John McCormick, and Dr. Griffin Arnold came to our area and to our facility.
Fulton County Hospital experienced some difficult financial times in the 80's. The voters of Fulton County continued to demonstrate a commitment to health care services in the community. In 1989, the county passed a sales tax to assist in upgrading and maintaining the health services. A heli pad was constructed to support Air-Evac as they began serving residents of Sharp and Fulton counties. In 1993, Fulton County Hospital celebrated 30 years of service to the area. Fulton County Hospital stationed an ambulance at Mammoth Spring on a permanent basis to better serve the eastern Fulton County residents.
In 2002 the hospital saw the end of an era as the last baby was delivered. In 2004 a special election was held for a 1/2 percent sales tax levy for the operation and maintenance of Fulton County Hospital. In July 2008 the hospital opened a new ER and Outpatient procedure wing. The hospital continues to grow and is always looking to add new services to better serve the community. Today, many small rural hospitals in Arkansas have closed. Fulton County Hospital remains. It is one of a few solely owned and operated county hospitals in Arkansas. The hospital maintains a strong force in the delivery of primary health care for the people of this area.
Fulton County Hospital is committed to providing all individuals in the community and surrounding area with quality medical care, education, and service while fostering the art of compassion, caring, and healing.