Officials with Arkansas Heart Hospital broke ground Thursday on a four-story hospital in Bryant that will focus on patients who can’t be treated by medications.
The Arkansas Heart Hospital Encore Medical Center, the hospital’s second facility, is expected to open in the latter part of 2020.
The hospital will provide acute care while focusing on adult obesity with diabetes and peripheral vessel disease. It will have an emergency department and 25 in-patient beds in its first phase.
The hospital’s CEO, Dr. Bruce Murphy, said, “Our goal is to give people with problems that are not solvable with medications a second chance – an encore.”
Murphy called adult obesity “a new plague” and said patients “are walking examples that, frankly, diets don’t work.”
He said bariatric surgery, or weight-loss surgery on the digestive tract, helps patients lose weight and cures type 2 diabetes in 85% of patients with obesity and diabetes. He said the hospital’s Little Rock campus needs growing room.
“We believe that the hospitals of the future will be small and designed to care for the sickest of the sick patients, as most patients will be treated as outpatients,” he said.
The hospital will emphasize lifestyle changes. The facility will include a gym and a kitchen to teach patients how to prepare healthy meals. Classes will be offered in stress reduction, yoga and other services. A rooftop garden will provide vegetables to the intensive cardiac rehab clinic and the hospital’s cafe. Extending longevity will be another focus.
Murphy said the hospital will start with 25 beds and can easily be expanded to 50 beds and ultimately 100 beds. A campus surrounding the hospital will provide specialty and primary care.
Former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, an Arkansas Heart Hospital board member, said public health issues in the state’s early days included yellow fever, malaria, hookworm and smallpox.
“Those diseases are largely gone, but a huge portion of today’s public health risks arrive not from worms or mosquitoes but from the behavior of the patients themselves, and that is the real challenge we face,” he said.