Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are giving $8 million to Arkansas Children’s Northwest for the $160 million hospital under construction in Springdale near Arvest Ballpark. The announcement was held Monday (May 9) at the ballpark.
Arkansas Children’s Hospital CEO Marcy Doderer said the gift is the largest contribution Walmart has ever made toward any hospital affiliated with the Children’s Miracle Network. She said for 33 years Walmart and its foundation have supported fundraising campaigns at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, raising more than $1 million annually.
“We are proud to be investing in the health and wellness of (200,000) children in Northwest Arkansas,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer at Walmart and president of the Walmart Foundation. “Walmart is committed to strengthening the local communities in which we operate and having a children’s hospital in the region is a huge step forward.”
The Arkansas Children’s Hospital Northwest facility is estimated to have 233,613 square feet, and sit on 37 acres. The facility is expected to have 24 inpatient beds, 30 emergency department rooms, five operating rooms, and 30 clinic rooms.
She said Walmart continues to invest in access to quality healthcare in 10,000 markets around the world but the company has also made it a priority in its home base. ACH already serves 50,000 area children through its Lowell Clinic, but this new facility will bring virtually every specialization offered at the hospital’s home campus in Little Rock much closer for many families.
“In our talking with the Walmart Foundation about the needs for the Northwest Arkansas facility it became evident that this gift would be one way Walmart could see those funds put to use in its home region. We are delighted with this gift,” Doderer told Talk Business & Politics. “From the land gift by the George family and now this Walmart gift it’s clear that Northwest Arkansas is behind this project.”
The Springdale Facilities Board recently obtained city approval to issue $85 million in revenue bonds on behalf of the ACH which will go toward the project.
Officials were clear that Monday’s (May 10) announcement was not a campaign kickoff but merely a celebration of Walmart’s continued support of the institution.
Arkansas Children’s Northwest has a $167 million construction, technology and equipment budget. The operational budget is $260.7 million, and over five years the total investment will be $427.7 million. Trisha Montague, the administrator chosen to lead the Northwest Arkansas hospital, said there will be an official campaign kickoff in the coming weeks.
Hospital officials also said its foundation is meeting with Northwest Arkansas families and corporations to assess their participation levels.
Montague said dirt work is underway at the Springdale site and some of the plans are still being formalized but the hospital is expected to open in January 2018. She and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jay Deshpande said they are also engaged in physician recruitment for the Northwest facility, and that is expected to take more than a year to complete. The specialty areas include pediatric oncology, pediatric anesthesiology, general surgery, gastrointestinal, and endocrinology
Kirk Dupps, a retired Walmart executive, has a grandson who at age three was diagnosed with leukemia. The child was treated and cured at ACH in Little Rock. As someone who used to try and recruit retail executives to Northwest Arkansas in the 1980s, he said it was a hard sale.
“Today it’s not that way any longer. This region has all the cultural amenities a family could want, entertainment, quality of life, education, diversity, strong employment sector, but there is one missing piece to this utopia and that’s critical and specialty health care for our children.” Dupps said. “Arkansas Children’s Northwest is the missing piece and we are plugging that in.”
Doderer said the hospital’s mission statement in Northwest Arkansas is “Better Today, Healthier Tomorrow.” She said the hospital seeks to address the immediate needs of critically ill children so they can become better today, but that’s not where it stops. She said they second part of the mission is to make sure these children have healthier lives as they grow up.