Little Rock-based Arkansas Children’s Hospital will double the size of its Jonesboro clinic after businessman Chris Fowler and his wife Kim donated $750,000 Thursday (Aug. 9) toward the project.
The money will be used to buy the building the clinic currently leases, ACH President and CEO Marcy Doderer told Talk Business & Politics. The clinic now uses about 4,000 square feet, but it will use the entire 8,000 square feet of space that’s available once a renovation is completed, she said.
The renovation work will begin in 2019. The donation will be used to buy the building, and the rest of the renovation will be paid for by ACH. A cost estimate for the entire project has not been set, she said. When completed, the clinic will have the same look and feel as ACH clinics in Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas, she added.
“It’s an important gift from the Fowler family,” Doderer said. “It brings their total contribution to Arkansas Children’s Hospital to $1 million.”
The clinic is on Carson Street across the street from St. Bernards Hospital near downtown Jonesboro. Opened in 2012, the clinic had 5,000 patient visits in the last two years, a 60% increase compared with its opening. The clinic has saved parents 700,000 minutes worth of driving, according to ACH. Kim Fowler, an ACH Foundation Board member, said the increased volume in visits necessitated the clinic expansion.
“Serving the children of Arkansas is a top priority for our family,” Kim Fowler said. “By donating the funds to support the purchase of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Jonesboro Clinic, we know we’ve made a positive investment for future generations as well as provide greater access to specialized pediatric healthcare for children in the region.”
ACH serves a 13 county region in Northeast Arkansas. Within those counties are 99,000 children, according to ACH. The area has the third largest concentration of children in the state with 36 children per square mile. About one in five children in NEA live at or below the federal poverty line.
How many more children the clinic will be able to provide services to hasn’t been determined, Doderer said. The clinic is led by pediatric neurologist Dr. Stephen Bates. Attracting other specialized doctors and medical professionals to the clinic will determine future patient loads, she said.
A second, full-time specialist, possibly a cardiologist, and a pediatric audiologist are among the targets. A space within the clinic will be developed for speech, physical, and occupational therapy. Additional diagnostic and ancillary services such as lab, audiology, and respiratory testing will be conducted by Fowler Diagnostics Services.
Existing services include neurology, pediatric care for urology, cardiology, neurology, genetics, infectious disease, ear, nose and throat and more.
ACH has noticed the growth rates in NEA, and has tried to devise a plan to expand in the area, Doderer said. The Fowler’s gift will improve the care children receive in the region for generations to come, she added.
“Kim and Chris Fowler have been longtime supporters of Arkansas Children’s,” said Fred Scarborough, president of Arkansas Children’s Foundation. “This strategic gift will allow Arkansas Children’s to better serve patients and families in the Northeast Arkansas region and alleviate barriers so that families may receive care close to home.”
ACH completed in early 2018 a $167 million full-service hospital in Springdale. The 233,623-square-foot hospital, opened Feb. 27, is expected to reach the estimated 200,000 children living in the Northwest Arkansas metro area.