The $156 million Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway was dedicated Friday (Sept. 9) in a ceremony at the campus.
The 260,000-square-foot hospital employs about 325 and will eventually employ more than 500. The hospital opens at 7 a.m. Sept. 16.
All 111 beds are “smart beds” that can perform functions such as weighing patients, lifting patients to a fully sitting position, and inflating on one side to assist in turning over the patients. Some data is uploaded into the hospital’s electronic medical records system. Electronic signage outside the doors provides information such as the patient’s physician and primary caregiver as well as special precautions.
Discussions about building a new hospital in Conway began in 2012 and construction began in July 2014. The hospital is located on a 37-acre site off Interstate 40 in Conway.
“This presence, this huge, modern, multi, multimillion dollar facility gives us as the city of Conway priceless branding from the interstate for anybody that happens through here,” said Mayor Tab Townsell.
The ceremony included a dedication prayer by pastor Don Chandler of Central Baptist Church and a raising of the Baptist Health flag by Baptist Health President and CEO Troy Wells and Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Wells said in an interview the hospital will offer most major services outside of heart transplants and major heart surgeries and will not serve as a feeder system for the main campus in Little Rock.
“If we’re going to invest $156 million in a community, the intent is to do as much as we can here in this community,” he said.
Wells was one of the volunteers who helped the hospital prepare for its opening by playing the part of a 72-year-old nursing home resident with generalized weakness while someone else played the part of his daughter.
This is the ninth hospital in the Baptist Health system. Wells said the system has no plans to open any other facilities. The system also operates more than 75 primary care and specialty care clinics in Arkansas.
Little Rock-based Baptist Health, founded in 1920 through the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, employs more than 8,300 people. Hutchinson said in his speech that it is Arkansas’ third largest employer after Wal-Mart and Tyson Foods. He said the system has an almost $1 billion economic impact on the state.