SPRINGDALE -- Arkansas Children's Northwest hospital will open its doors for outpatient care Tuesday after about two years of fundraising and construction, hospital officials announced Saturday.
Major announcements about the Springdale facility came one after another: The hospital raised $80 million in all from more than 8,000 Arkansans, officials said while showing the hospital's interior to members of the media for the first time.
The Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation gave the capstone donation of $8 million on behalf of the late Pat Walker. A light-filled tower at the end of the hospital overlooking Interstate 49 near Arvest Ballpark will bear her name.
"You'll be able to see that for miles around," Marcy Doderer, Arkansas Children's president and CEO, said, noting the tower makes literal the hospital's goal to be a beacon for child-focused, lifesaving health care. "If a family's looking for us, they'll be able to find us."
Doderer called the area's generosity overwhelming. It reached $10 million higher than the hospital's goal.
"Our promise is that investment will be worth every penny," she said.
The hospital and its staff are largely ready to accept patients, but its opening will take a staggered approach as the state government inspects, certifies and licenses different types of care, Doderer said. The Arkansas Children's Lowell Clinic, which offers outpatient services in cardiology, neurology and other areas, will set up shop at the new hospital starting Tuesday. Outpatient care in general doesn't need an overnight stay.
Doderer said pediatric emergency services and longer inpatient care could start within weeks.
Arkansas Children's Northwest stands five floors tall and includes clinics and labs, room for 24 inpatient beds, a helipad and several operating rooms. The most critical or complex procedures will still require flying to Arkansas Children's primary campus in Little Rock, but the Springdale site will be able to handle broken bones and cancer treatments without the need to drive the whole family three hours away, spokeswoman Hilary DeMillo said.
Natural light fills the hospital's waiting rooms and lobbies through tall windows on all sides of the building. Sculpted animals and plants and multicolor geometric shapes adorn walls and floors to make a child feel at ease, DeMillo said. The focus on children shapes the equipment as well. Needles, gurneys, medication doses, blood-pressure cuffs -- all must be on hand in the right size for preschoolers to teens, she said.
The 37-acre site also includes outdoor paths and rooms for families.
"We're not caring for one patient, we're caring for the family," DeMillo said.
The effort to bring a pediatric hospital to Northwest Arkansas brought together seemingly every prominent family and company in the region. Tyson Foods and the Tyson family gave the largest single gift, $15 million. Walmart and its foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, J.B. Hunt and the Hunt family, George's Inc., the George and Evans families and many others gave tens of millions more.
"I have a son that's here today because of Children's Hospital. I have a grandson that's here today because of Children's Hospital," Gary George, George's chairman, said at a ceremony near the beginning of construction in September 2016. "You all in Northwest Arkansas have spoken from your heart."
The Walker family name will go on the helipad and outpatient clinics as well as the beacon, said Mandy Macke, associate director of the Walker foundation. She said she was glad Pat Walker's name could go on the beacon after her death at age 97 in late 2016.
Trisha Montague, the new hospital's chief administrator, said nearly all of more than 200 positions there have been filled. They include around 30 pediatricians and subspecialists, some from within Arkansas and others from as far afield as Alaska.
"Arkansas Children's has such a great reputation in the pediatric world," Montague said. "We are ready to go as far as staff and physicians."
Marcy Doderer, Arkansas Children's Hospital president and CEO, speaks Saturday before an event to celebrate the hospital's opening in Springdale . The hospital will open its doors for outpatient care Tuesday after about two years of fundraising and construction.
NW News on 01/07/2018
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