Arkansas Children’s Hospital Northwest hosts hundreds for topping out ceremony

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 318 views 

A topping out ceremony for the $167 million Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale was held in September.

More than two hundred Northwest Arkansas residents, business and civic leaders packed the construction site Wednesday (Sept. 28) to witness the final steel beam erected for the new $165 million Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Springdale.

The beam was painted white and signed by many children and area residents before it was raised by a crane and placed atop the steel frame of the new hospital.

The U.S. flag, flying high in the autumn wind, was a affixed to one end of the beam, while an evergreen tree adorned the opposite end. Construction officials from Nabholz said the evergreen is a symbol of new growth that will continue to sprout each year within the hospital. The signatures of local residents were also a symbol of the continued support from the entire Northwest Arkansas community toward this project.

The beam was taken to J.B. Hunt, Wal-Mart and Tyson Foods corporate headquarters earlier this week for employee to sign the beam. The three companies and their founding families have anted up more than $32 million of the $70 million raised to date.

Marcy Doderer, CEO of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, said while raising the final beam is an exciting event, there is much work ahead before the hospital can open in early 2018. Doderer thanked several lead families for their financial support toward this investment which will tally more than $427 million over five years, and includes construction, operating expenses and the creation of 250 jobs.

She also announced the outdoor gardens at the Springdale hospital will be named after Randall and Barbara Tyson as part of her continued support for the hospital. The Tyson Family and Tyson Foods recently committed $15 million toward the $70 million Care Close to Home campaign, the largest single gift ever given the specialty hospital.

Marcy Doderer, CEO of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, visits with John Tyson, board chairman of Tyson Foods Inc., at the specialty hospital’s “topping out” ceremony in Springdale on Wednesday (Sept. 28).
Marcy Doderer, CEO of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, visits with John Tyson, board chairman of Tyson Foods Inc., at the specialty hospital’s “topping out” ceremony in Springdale on Wednesday (Sept. 28).

Gary George, retired CEO of George’s Inc., spoke to the crowd, proudly noting that his family helped launch the new hospital with the land gift valued at $7.5 million, and later adding another $1 million to the building campaign. Choking back emotion, George said his own family had been touched by Arkansas Children’s Hospital in past years.

“My son and my grandson are both here today because of Arkansas Children’s Hospital. We needed help and did not know where to turn but Arkansas Children’s was there. You don’t have to look far to find a family that’s been touched by Arkansas Children’s. So many of you have reached down deep to help make this possible for our most precious assets, the children of Northwest Arkansas,” George said.

Barbara Tyson, who spoke at the event said “this is dream come true from many in this community from more than a decade.”

“My family and I believe Arkansas Children’s Northwest will vastly improve the health of the children who live in this region,” she added.

Doderer said the physical space of this place will be unique, but it will be the people and programs of Arkansas Children’s Northwest that will leave an indelible mark on the patients and their families. She told Talk Business & Politics the project is on-schedule and on-budget thanks in part to good weather. It’s just been 13 months since the new hospital was announced and so much as has taken place in that period. Doderer said the $70 million capital campaign is going about as good as one could expect. With $53 million already raised, Doderer said there are several other gifts being contemplated by area families and organizations and more announcements are expected soon.

“I am not concerned in the least about raising the balance of the $70 million. We will get there,” she added.

Doderer said there has been much interest from health professionals who want to work in this new facility.

“It’s still a little early to recruit physicians, but we have had four doctors contact us because they are interested in relocating to Northwest Arkansas to work at Arkansas Children’s. There have several professionals in our Little Rock hospital that have also expressed an interest in transferring. That would be great to have some of our own mixed into the new team because they would already be familiar with the ACH systems,” she said.

Doderer also said ACH is working with all three of the local health care providers in Northwest Arkansas so care is not duplicated.

“We know the providers here continue investing in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Units), but we will pick up care where they leave off. Perhaps the baby is out of the NICU but needs outpatient services for a while, that’s where ACH can help. We plan to augment coverage, not duplicate it,” Doderer told Talk Business & Politics.

Lastly, Doderer also was asked about possibilities for ACH Northwest to include a research center. She said talk has begun about incorporating research and the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences into some phase of the Northwest hospital.

“We don’t have a timeline, but I think it’s definitely possible at some time in the future.”

The final beam was signed by hundreds of area residents before it was placed atop the steel structure at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Northwest on Wednesday (Sept. 28).
The final beam was signed by hundreds of area residents before it was placed atop the steel structure at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Northwest on Wednesday (Sept. 28).