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story.lead_photo.caption A worker passes the dot to the letter "I" to another worker Dec. 29 while assembling a sign from a gondola atop the nearly completed Arkansas Children's Northwest hospital in Springdale. The Tyson Family Foundation announced Friday it will give $1 million to the hospital to establish an endowment. - Photo by Andy Shupe

SPRINGDALE -- The Tyson Family Foundation will give $1 million to Arkansas Children's Northwest hospital to establish an endowment, the foundation announced Friday.

Unlike a donation, an endowment brings in interest over time much like a savings account. Archie Schaffer, a consultant and retired executive with Tyson Foods, said Friday endowments commonly support hospitals and universities. It will provide a source of income for the hospital "in perpetuity," he said.

The foundation also said it's the first endowment for the new Springdale hospital, which partially opened earlier this month.

The gift is in honor of Terri and Chuck Erwin, who for decades have led or supported multiple programs connected with Arkansas Children's, according to a news release from the foundation. Chuck Erwin is chairman of the Northwest hospital's board.

"I was surprised and am delighted by this generous gift," he said in a statement. "I can think of no better way to be celebrated than with a gift that will help reach more children in this region and deliver on the promise of a healthier tomorrow. Terri and I are grateful to the entire Tyson Family."

The endowment will support quality and safety initiatives, the news release said. Ashlie Hilbun, vice president of philanthropy for the Arkansas Children's Foundation, said in an email the details are still being worked out because the gift was a surprise, but it will be used to improve clinical care in the system's Northwest Arkansas hospital.

Children's Northwest is the area's first pediatric hospital and opened outpatient services almost two weeks ago following about two years of fundraising and construction. Arkansas Children's system president and CEO Marcy Doderer previously said emergency and inpatient care, which can require multiday stays, should open in the coming weeks as the facility passes state inspections and licensure.

Arkansas Children's Northwest stands near Interstate 49 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 such procedures as setting broken bones and administering cancer treatments.

The foundation release states the full opening is expected for mid-February, but a Children's spokeswoman Friday said specific dates aren't yet available.

The Tyson gift comes on top of $15 million Tyson Foods and the Tyson family together gave to the hospital in August 2016. Other donations poured in from local families, companies and groups, including the Walmart Foundation, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, the Evans and George families of George's Inc. and the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation.

Hospital officials announced Jan. 6 they had raised $80 million all told, enough to cover roughly half of expected construction costs and $10 million more than the fundraising goal.

"Arkansas Children's and the Erwins share an unparalleled sincerity of commitment to children," Barbara Tyson, a Tyson Foods board member, said in a statement in Friday's news release. "The effort to provide the highest standard of care by this organization is inspiring to our entire family. It's a privilege to recognize Chuck and Terri, our dear friends, in this way."

NW News on 01/20/2018

Print Headline: Children's hospital gains $1 million endowment

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