In less than two weeks Arkansas Children’s Hospital has garnered $13 million in donations toward its Northwest Arkansas facility under construction in Springdale. Officials with J.B. Hunt Transport announced Thursday (May 19) a $5 million contribution to the planned hospital.
The contribution comes on the heels of $8 million given earlier this month by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. All the funds go toward the $167 million construction project that will bring specialty pediatric care close to home for more than 200,000 children.
“For more than 50 years, J.B. Hunt has believed in the importance of reinvesting in communities,” John Roberts, president and CEO of J.B. Hunt, said in a statement. “The construction of a children’s hospital in this community is a historic and necessary next step for the advancement of pediatric healthcare in the region. J.B. Hunt understands the impact a thriving children’s hospital in Northwest Arkansas will have on the children of this region. We are proud to step forward as a champion for children.”
Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, said there is a good reason why this facility is garnering major support from the legacy companies in the region.
“You can’t forget that the region’s employers benefit from Arkansas Children’s being local. It’s a plus when they try to attract the best workers in the world and it will be key in recruitment and retaining some employees going forward,” Deck said.”
Deck said the presence of Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Northwest Arkansas is significant because it also means the region has grown enough to support this type of specialized hospital operation. It’s also is a critical piece to the region’s healthcare offerings that has been lacking in the past.
“This hospital will serve more than local children, as it will also draw in families from southern Missouri, Fort Smith and eastern Oklahoma making Northwest Arkansas a regional hub for critical pediatric care,” Deck said. “Having a highly trained medical team and other hospital professionals will also add to the Northwest Arkansas economy as those incomes are earned and spent locally.”
The hospital’s annual operational budget is set at $260.7 million on top of the $167 initial construction costs. ACH’s fundraising arm has yet to announce a campaign for the construction phase, or operational costs. Hospital officials expect the investment in Northwest Arkansas over five years will be $427.7 million.
Trisha Montague, the administrator chosen to lead the Northwest Arkansas hospital campus, said there will be an official campaign kickoff in the coming weeks. She also confirmed that the Springdale Facilities Board will issue $85 million in revenue bonds on behalf of the hospital construction, which will be repaid by the hospital over time.
Montague, said the region has been supportive of the expansion dating back to August 2015 with the land gift made by Robin and Gary George and Cathy and David Evans.
Plans for Arkansas Children’s Northwest include a 233,613 square foot, modern facility with 24 inpatient beds, 30 emergency department and urgent care exam rooms, 30 clinic exam rooms, five operating rooms, and diagnostic services. The 37-acre campus will also include walking trails, gardens, and a helipad and refueling station.
“The significance of this (Hunt) gift is profound – it underscores three decades of history J.B. Hunt has with Arkansas Children’s Hospital as well as its tireless commitment to ensuring Northwest Arkansas continues to be one of our nation’s most flourishing communities,” said Marcy Doderer, president and CEO of Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “J.B. Hunt’s corporate citizenship is unwavering, and we are thrilled to continue our partnership as we realize this bold vision for care close to home.”
Arkansas Children’s Northwest is being designed by Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects of Fayetteville and Little Rock, and FKP Architects of Houston, Texas. The hospital is scheduled to open in January 2018.