Arkansas Children’s launches $70 million capital campaign for Northwest hospital project

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 443 views 

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Children's Hospital.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital has officially launched a $70 million capital building campaign for the new hospital under construction in Springdale. The campaign, “Care Close to Home,” has already garnered $53 million in funding pledges from families and businesses in the Northwest Arkansas area, leaving just $17 million to close out the campaign.

The capital campaign will round out the approximately $165 million price tag for construction of the Springdale hospital. Roughly $85 million of that total will come from revenue bonds issued in by the city of Springdale’s facilities board.

“Care close to home means providing pediatric care to the region’s 200,000 children – emergency care, pediatric surgery, cancer treatments, a robust offering of subspecialty pediatric services, and a direct link to Angel One,” said Marcy Doderer, president and CEO of Arkansas Children’s. “We are humbled and grateful to our friends and investors who have stepped forward with transformational support to improve children’s health in Northwest Arkansas.”

The $53 million tally to date was made public at the hospital foundation’s annual Gala of Hope held in Rogers on Friday (Aug. 5).

Fred Scarborough, president and chief development officer at Arkansas Children’s Foundation, told Talk Business & Politics there will be more names announced in the coming weeks from donors who contributed to the $53 million total. He said support has been overwhelming and the funds have rolled in fast, also noting that the entire project has been 10 years in the making. Scarborough also said some of the donors have asked to remain anonymous.

“Arkansas Children’s Northwest reflects 10 years of planning and collaboration. Once open, we fully expect that the scope of facilities and programs will evolve and expand,” Scarborough said. “The campus is being designed to meet the needs of children. Our plan is rooted in an evidence-based approach to pediatric care with quality and flexibility as key elements of the design. As demand for services in the region increases, we will respond and grow accordingly. This children’s hospital belongs to the region.”

Doderer told Talk Business & Politics that the Springdale facility was designed with care and lots of consideration. She said the 24 inpatient beds, five operating rooms, 30 exam rooms and 30 emergency department rooms were the result of looking at internal data from the Little Rock hospital and combining that with the local community and those usage rates related to population.

“We began the discussions and study last winter and after we came up with our assumptions, we had them validated by outside consultants. It was a fairly complicated process, but it’s the standard when opening a new hospital,” Doderer said. “When the door opens in early 2018 the hospital will employ 300, that doesn’t include all the physicians who will practice at the hospital.”

Doderer said the Lowell Clinic will close and all the workers will be transferred to the more centralized Springdale location. She said 70% of the local population can reach the Springdale location within 30 minutes, which literally does bring the care closer to home. She estimates there will be 250 new jobs created with the hospital opening. She said hiring for specialty doctors has already begun, the hiring of nurses and skilled health professionals will take place late next year after the leadership roles are filled by next summer. Doderer said the hospital’s salary and compensation packages are commensurate with experience and competitively based on market averages.

She said some of the staff could possibly receive some training ahead of the hospital’s opening in the Little Rock facility. Also ahead of opening, she said the Springdale hospital will conduct its own drills and training programs. Doderer said the medical labor force is tight, but said there is no reason to doubt they will be able to fully staff the Springdale center with qualified personnel, a process they began several months ago.

Arkansas Children’s Northwest has its own board of trustees and fundraising arm. Doderer said Chuck Erwin has already been named chairman of the local board. Doderer, Mark Saviers, Pat McClelland, Ron Clark and Gary George have been named directors. She said the board will be adding several more directors in the coming months. When completed, Doderer said the board aims to have 14 directors.

Doderer said the hospital’s mission in Northwest Arkansas is “Better Today, Healthier Tomorrow.” She said the hospital is always about addressing the immediate needs of critically ill children so they can become better today, but that’s not where it stops. She said second part of the mission is to make sure these children have healthier lives as they grow up.

When it opens in January 2018, the 233,613 square-foot hospital will be the region’s first and only comprehensive pediatric healthcare center and will include:

• 24 inpatient beds to care for children requiring overnight stays;
• 24-hour pediatric Emergency Department;
• Pediatric surgery unit with 5 operating rooms;
• An outpatient clinic with 30 exam rooms supporting more than 20 subspecialty areas and a general pediatric clinic;
• A full range of ancillary and diagnostic services, child life and pastoral care;
• Outdoor gardens, nature trails, and interactive features designed for children; and
• A helipad and refueling station supporting Angel One, one of the nation’s leading pediatric intensive care transport services with more than 2,000 transports annually

Arkansas Children’s Northwest is being built on 37 acres. This $7.5 million gift of land was donated by Robin and Gary George, Cathy and David Evans and their families. The project is expected to cost $427.7 million in construction, technology, equipment, and operating expenses over the next five years.

“We are proud to lead the fundraising campaign for Arkansas Children’s Northwest,” said Kirk Dupps, campaign co-chair for Arkansas Children’s Northwest. “We understand firsthand why children need a children’s hospital. Our grandson faced tremendous need when fighting and recovering from cancer. Arkansas Children’s knew how to care for him and they saved his life. We are so fortunate to live in a community that will benefit even more from such a great organization. Arkansas Children’s Northwest will significantly enhance the quality of life for children, families and businesses alike.”

Donors to the local campaign include:

• Tyson Foods and the Tyson Family – $15 million,
• Robin and Gary George – $8.5 million, land and cash,
• Walmart and Walmart Foundation – $8 million,
• J.B Hunt Transport – $5 million,
• Will Golf for Kids and Color of Hope committees pledged – $5 million,
• Terri and Chuck Erwin,
• Cynthia and Kirk Dupps,
• Premier Concepts,
• Karen and Darren Horton,
• Johnelle Hunt,
• Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation
• Fadil Bayyari Family, and
• Estate of Mildred and Jarrell Gray

Wal-Mart Stores CEO Doug McMillon delivered the keynote address at Friday’s Color of Hope Gala. Highlighting the need for a children’s hospital in the community, he noted, “Let’s work together to bring hope to all of those who need expert pediatric care close to home. If we continue to work together, I believe we can make Arkansas Children’s Northwest something to be proud of for generations to come.”