Hos­pi­tal hopes to boost health, safety of chil­dren

Arkansas Chil­dren’s North­west set to open in Jan­uary near ball­park

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - DAN HOLTMEYER

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.

The United

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.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/SPENCER TIREY

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.

Doderer

Cour­tesy Photo/MICHAEL REPOVICH

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.

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