Hospital hopes to boost health, safety of children
Arkansas Children’s Northwest set to open in January near ballpark
Arkansas Children’s Hospital will use its Springdale location to help improve children’s health and safety before they ever need to come to the hospital, the organization’s president and CEO said Friday.
“Arkansas Children’s represents so much more than just a hospital,” CEO Marcy Doderer said.
Arkansas has gone too long with its children’s well-being ranking near the bottom in the nation, she said.
Health Foundation last year ranked Arkansas 49th in its Health of Women and Children Report, for example. The needs are great: One in four Arkansas children struggles to get
enough food to eat, according to the nonprofit group Feeding America. Around half have Medicaid or other public health coverage.
Doderer hopes to ramp up Arkansas Children’s work in child safety, food security and other issues to help change those numbers.
“Could we really set an audacious goal to make Arkansas the safest, healthiest place to be a child?” she asked.
Arkansas Children’s Northwest is set to open in January near Arvest Ballpark and is a “flag in the ground” to show the organization is providing more care and resources around the state, Doderer said.
The Springdale hospital will bring emergency and surgical services, two dozen inpatient beds and several clinics, complementing the more serious treatments and procedures Arkansas Children’s
primary Little Rock location provides. Doderer said construction is on-schedule a year or so on. The hospital is still recruiting for many of its 250 or so staff positions in nursing, finance and other services.
Northwest Arkansas corporations, groups and individuals donated more than $63 million toward the new Springdale facility as of Friday morning, not counting proceeds from the Color of Hope Gala fundraiser Friday night. Tyson Foods and the Tyson family gave the biggest gift at $15 million, with tens of millions more from Wal-Mart and the Walmart Foundation, J.B. Hunt Transportation, the George family of George’s Chicken and others.
Arkansas Children’s already works with outside groups on the non-clinical side of children’s health, partnering with Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, for example.
The Little Rock hospital’s Dr. Karen Farst, a pediatrician who specializes in child abuse, teaches children’s advocacy center staff members around the state what to pay attention to in cases that involve medical needs, said Elizabeth Pulley, executive director for the advocacy center group.
“We are blessed to have her,” Pulley said.
Laura Kellams, Northwest Arkansas director for the children and families advocates, said she was excited to continue and expand the group’s work with Arkansas Children’s. The two organizations have partnered to assess the state’s needs in children’s health and to help children get health care coverage, among other things.
“They’ve long seen the connection between kids’ health and public policy,” Kellams said.
Arkansas Children’s plans to essentially beef up such partnerships, Doderer said. It’s looking into providing telemedicine for community health centers in the rural southeast of the state and an elementary school health center in Little Rock, for instance. In Northwest Arkansas, the Springdale hospital has room to grow and gradually add services.
“The solution in different counties will be different,” she said.
In the meantime, Doderer said the Springdale facility is being built with spacious rooms and a surgery department that streamlines patients’ movements from one room to another and gives care providers space to talk to each other and work together.
Construction continues on Arkansas Children’s Hospital Northwest in Springdale near Arvest Ballpark. Marcy Doderer, CEO, hopes to ramp up Arkansas Children’s work in child safety, food security and other issues to help change those numbers.
Work continues at Arkansas Children’s Northwest’s main reception area in Springdale. Arkansas Children’s Northwest is set to open in January near Arvest Ballpark and is a “flag in the ground” to show the organization is providing more care and resources around the state, CEO Marcy Doderer said Friday.