Arkansas Children’s Northwest to hire 250 employees, getting ready for January opening

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 6,561 views 

Construction continues on the first floor of the Arkansas Children’s Northwest. The hospital is slated for completion this fall and will open in mid-January. (photo courtesy of ACH)

Arkansas Children’s Hospital CEO Marcy Doderer said the new Springdale campus is on schedule for completion this fall and between now and opening in January the hospital will need to hire 250 workers to help carry out the hospital’s day-to-day operations.

“It’s not just nurses, clinical and technical jobs we have to fill but it’s also foodservice, desk and registration as well as other clerical and even groundskeeping and maintenance that we must fill ahead of the opening in January,” Doderer told Talk Business & Politics on Friday (Aug. 4).

The Northwest campus includes the new hospital and relocation of the outpatient clinic now in Lowell. Trisha Montague, senior vice president and chief of regional services for the Springdale operations, said in the first six months of operation Arkansas Children’s will invest $16.4 million in staffing the new facility.

Doderer said the jobs have good benefits and competitive salaries which she is hoping will foster plenty of demand from qualified candidates. (Interested candidates may apply online.)

Mike Harvey, chief operating officer of the Northwest Arkansas Council, has said health jobs is are in high demand in the region given that all three of the major health providers continue to expand services and facilities in addition to the Arkansas Children’s Northwest project. He has said recruitment will have to come from outside the region for some of the specialty jobs and there is the chance workers recruited locally could create a vacuum for the local health care providers in the midst of expansions such as Mercy and Washington Regional.

Doderer said the senior management and most of the department director positions have been filled and many of them have already relocated to the area and are getting their children enrolled into local school systems.

“I met with the senior leadership team last night and they are eager to help us carry out our ‘champion for kids’ mission,” Doderer added.

She admitted that recruiting management has been a challenge given the tight regional labor market. Some executives relocated from Little Rock, a few local hires have been made and Doderer said the hospital has recruited outside the state for its chief medical and chief nursing officer candidates.

In mid-June, ACH announced the hiring of Michael Howard as chief nursing officer who is responsible for planning, organizing and directing the overall operations of nursing and patient care at the hospital. Howard hails from Children’s Hospital in San Antonio where he spent the past nine years as director of pediatric emergency and urgent care. He oversaw a staff of 120.

Also in June, Dr. Robert Williams was named chief medical officer for the Springdale facility. He relocated from Oklahoma City where he was assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Services and director for pediatric emergency medicine. Williams will work with clinical department and hospital administration in program growth and development while also overseeing the quality of medical provided at the Springdale hospital.

Williams did his pediatric residency and fellowship at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. William said anyone who has worked at Arkansas Children’s in the past would understand why he’s back.

“Arkansas Children’s has a reputation that goes well beyond the state’s borders. And this is a very exciting opportunity to serve Northwest Arkansas. We’re hoping to augment the outstanding pediatric care that is already in that region,” Williams said.

Doderer said fundraising for the $70 million goal for the Northwest project stands at $63.4 million. The major fundraising event held Friday (Aug 4) in Northwest Arkansas has a goal of raising $1 million.

“We are getting close to our goal but we are not there yet. So many people have stepped up and we couldn’t be more pleased with the response. We will get to the goal,” Doderer said.

MEDICAID CONCERNS
Doderer said Arkansas Children’s has always taken care of sick or injured children but the hospital and its research arm is also taking a broader look at trying to raise the state’s ranking nationally for child well being.

The Annie E. Casey and Robert Wood Johnson reports peg Arkansas near the bottom for child well being and Doderer said this needs to change. She said ACH needs to be a voice for the children, particular those living in poverty which is a real place for thousands of Arkansas children.

“ACH wants to have more active and direct and purposeful role to change that trajectory for the kids of our state. Poverty is big as 20% (and) our kids’ well being is challenged before they ever leave their home. Statewide 60% of our kids rely on medicaid funding through the ARKids insurance program,” Doderer said.

She has been active in discussions at the federal level on the healthcare debate as it relates to funding for children. She is optimistic the recent  joint resolution effort holds more potential than either proposal that came out of the House or Senate. She said kids were left out of the discussion in the House proposal and needs to be addressed.

Talk Business & Politics asked Doderer about the challenges with Medicaid cuts and the impact of that on the state’s youth. With the cuts, it will be difficult for some families to find specialists who will accept ARKids. The fear is without coverage there will be even fewer choices.

Doderer said Medicaid reimbursements are already too low for some facilities, even without future cuts. She said ACH can make it work because they treat so many children, some with full private insurance and those with no insurance, to those with ARKids which offers some form of reimbursement. Children around the state will be impacted from cuts to medicaid and Doderer said state legislators need to understand the long term risks for society.

EXPANDED MISSION
ACH also is working in partnerships with communities around the state to supplement care where needed. She said in Northwest Arkansas it’s about outpatient services and soon the new hospital will provide care closer to home. But in Monticello, ACH is working with physicians to augment specialty services as needed.

Doderer said ACH is also expanding its footprint in Jonesboro with outpatient services. In Pine Bluff, ACH is working to provide better and more intense care through several partnerships.

In Hot Springs, she said ACH is elevating the care of newborns in the hospital there. Doderer said telehealth is another way ACH plans to reach more children across the state with specialty care.

“Telehealth allows us to leverage our infrastructure with our Little Rock and Northwest facility on demand,” she added.

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