Hardscrabble Country Club in Fort Smith welcomed on Wednesday (Aug. 28) 40 teams and more than 80 ladies who participated in the “Birdies fore Babies” fundraiser conduced by the Mercy Health Foundation.
The scramble-format tournament began at 8 a.m., and concluded with a luncheon at the club. The presenting sponsor was the Fiori Family Charitable Fund.
Event organizers were hoping to raise around $30,000 to support the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Mercy Fort Smith. The foundation is a non-profit group that works to secure public support and funding for Mercy hospital facilities and services.
Michelle Stockman-Hood, executive director of the Mercy Health Foundation, and Lucy Newton, annual giving manager, said the funds will help support the hospital’s plan to construct about five NICU private family rooms. The plan is part of Mercy’s three-year plan for the facility.
Stockman-Hood said studies show that babies respond better to private rooms in which light, noise and other external factors may be better managed.
Mercy Fort Smith recently received a $150,000 contribution from the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program to purchase critical care equipment for the NICU.
The grant launched the hospital’s “Making Babies Healthy” program designed to reduce the number of days infants spend in the NICU.
Mercy Fort Smith operates the only Level III equivalent NICU in the Fort Smith area. Last year, the 25-bed unit provided care to nearly 800 premature and critically ill newborns. In the last three years, 11% of infants admitted to the NICU at Mercy have had either a primary or secondary diagnosis of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) a term for the problems a baby experiences when withdrawing from exposure to narcotics. It’s a significantly higher percentage than the national average of 3-5%.
Officials with the St. Louis-based Sisters of Mercy announced in August 2011 a plan to invest about $192 million in Mercy facilities in the Fort Smith region as part of a 10-year plan to invest $4.8 billion in its operations in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.