Several hundred people crowded into the new entrance for Mercy Hospital in Rogers early Monday afternoon (Nov. 11). Among those taking part in the formal ceremony included Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Rogers Mayor Greg Hines, Eric Pianalto, hospital CEO, and Dr. Steve Goss, president of Mercy clinics.
The event took place amid falling temperatures outside and a blustery mix of snow and sleet that hit the region during the afternoon and early evening hours.
Pianalto, who has been with Mercy for 25 years, said the 7-story tower and new hospital entrance caps off three-plus years of work and a regional investment of nearly $280 million from the health provider and its foundation.
“This is the last of the visible signs of our multi-year investment throughout this community, but work has already begun to plan for the next five years or so. That will include more behind-the-scenes work on payment reforms and technology applications such as telemedicine,” Pianalto told Talk Business & Politics.
He thanked the 2,000-plus hospital employees who worked to deliver health care services during the hospital expansion. He said as the new 279,000 square-foot addition was completed there were 42 moves or transitions that took place within the main hospital over the past three years. The new tower cost $141 million, including equipment and cost overruns of roughly $15 million. Pianalto said 70 new patient beds are opening with this first phase. There will be 70 additional beds on the sixth and seventh floors opening when that space is needed.
The McMillon Family Heart Unit is also located in the new tower that features 36 inpatient beds, state-of-the-art nurses stations, family consultation rooms, friends and families waiting areas, a children’s playroom, and a conference room. The addition also allows for the doubling of the neonatal intensive care unit and a larger pediatric unit with 14 beds. Mercy said this will allow the hospital to provide care to 2,000 children annually, doubling its capacity.
A new endoscopy suite with three gastrointestinal procedure rooms and room for expansion and a hybrid operating room to enable advanced heart procedures are also in the tower. The new space also includes a new CT scanner for advanced imaging for cardiology and neurology, larger pharmacy, laboratory, ancillary services, patient registration and café.
Pianalto said about 2,000 people worked on the hospital expansion over the past three years and the community at large also contributed $20 million toward Mercy’s total $277 million investment, which included 7 new clinics in addition to the hospital expansion. He said Mercy has hired 100 doctors in the past three years with a total of 1,000 new jobs attributed to Mercy’s investment.
“It’s wonderful to be with you today in this beautiful space as we celebrate the past, present and future of care with the Sisters of Mercy,” said Pianalto said Monday, noting Catherine McAuley’s founding in 1831 of what would become the hospital network. “One of our favorite quotations of Catherine’s is to be good today but better tomorrow. We take her advice to heart today, tomorrow and the day after that. We strive to be continually better in the memory of our foundress and the sisters who carried on her vision.”
Mayor Hines joked that healthcare was very important to him these days, pointing to his arm stabilization apparatus that he must wear post orthopedic surgery following a recent bike wreck. Hines said Mercy is a wonderful partner with the city, being one of the first to invest in the trail system and quality of life in addition to elevating education and access to quality healthcare.
“How fortunate we are that Mercy has the faith in Northwest Arkansas to make such a big commitment,” Hines said.
Sen. Boozman also said Mercy had been there for him as a patient in the past and Northwest Arkansas is fortunate to have a strong community hospital.
The Sisters of Mercy servants and local clergy also did the customary blessing of the new facility which is part of the Sister’s of Mercy tradition. Hines said Sisters of Mercy have been affiliated with Mercy Rogers since 1951, one year after the opening of the Rogers Memorial Hospital located downtown. From there to the St. Mary’s Hospital located on Walnut and Dixieland to the Mercy Rogers at Pinnacle Hills that opened in 2008 to the new addition today, he said Sisters of Mercy have been the foundation for a local health system.