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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE Rain falls Tuesday at the Arkansas Children's Northwest campus in Springdale while a blue light shines through a stairway that has been called the Pat Walker Beacon of Hope.

The full opening of Arkansas Children's Northwest hospital in Springdale this spring brings a local portal to advanced pediatric health care and helps the region stand out among other cities, health care providers and others said.

Children's new 234,000-square-foot building across from Arvest Ballpark began outpatient services in January. Its leaders expect the pediatric emergency department, 24 inpatient beds, surgery unit and other services to follow in the coming weeks.

At a glance

Arkansas Children’s Northwest

Location: 2601 Gene George Blvd., Springdale

Contact: (479) 725-6800

Source: Arkansas Children’s Hospital

The pediatric hospital is Children's biggest step into Northwest Arkansas, replacing an outpatient clinic in Lowell. Trisha Montague, the hospital's administrator, said it'll be equipped to treat broken bones and common problems in the ears, lungs and stomach, administer cancer treatments and provide social work services, among many others. About 30 pediatricians and subspecialists will work there.

The hospital can stabilize and care for children with rarer diseases or other emergencies that require a trip by helicopter to the larger Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock.

"We will be able to handle anything that comes through our door," Montague said.

Local health care providers have long provided pediatric services, but having a specialized hospital for the job around should mean better and more convenient options for families and kids no matter what care they need, said Bill Rogers, spokesman for the Springdale Chamber of Commerce.

"This moves us up the ladder of cities and metropolitan areas," he said, noting many cities go without. The facility also puts Northwest Arkansas in the company of cities such as Austin, Texas and Madison, Wis. Those places boast their own children's hospitals and are considered examples for Northwest Arkansas to emulate by local economic observers.

"You don't have to look very far to see how it impacts businesses and employees, potential businesses that are looking at the area and how they perceive Springdale and our region," Rogers said. "It sounds funny calling health care an amenity, but every element that improves our life and our quality of life is one more tool in our toolbox to recruit business, to make the lives of the employees that work here better."

Other pediatric providers have responded to the hospital's arrival. Northwest Health closed the pediatric department at its Bentonville medical center last May because of the new hospital and a need for more beds for adult patients, officials said at the time. Mercy Northwest Arkansas said it wouldn't change longstanding plans to add pediatricians throughout its system.

Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas, a regional physician network, includes Northwest Arkansas Pediatrics offices in Fayetteville and Lowell. It recently announced plans to open a new pediatric clinic in Rogers in May to offer such services as immunizations, newborn care and adolescent medicine for people up to age 21.

The Pinnacle Hills clinic will stand alongside a new MANA family medicine clinic and is part of an effort to offer more in Benton County, said Dr. Brent Silvey, president of the pediatrics group.

Silvey said he saw Children's less as a competitor than as a partner that can offer specialty and emergency care in the region. Arkansas Children's specialists have seen MANA patients for years, and most of MANA's pediatricians started out as residents at Arkansas Children's, he said.

"We trust Arkansas Children's Hospital and are proud of the quality, compassionate care provided to children in our state," Silvey wrote in an email. "We will continue to work with ACH to coordinate care and work toward improving the health and quality of life of the children in our community."

The new hospital might also bring new opportunities for training pediatricians in Northwest Arkansas. Physicians at the main hospital in Little Rock also work as instructors and researchers with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said Dr. Pope Moseley, dean of the university's College of Medicine. The hospital is home to residency programs for the additional training required for doctors.

"They are our partners in pediatrics," Moseley said.

Moseley and Montague said it's not yet clear whether the university's northwest campus in Fayetteville and the new hospital will have the same relationship, but they're still connected. The subspecialists at the northwest hospital are also employed by the university, for instance.

Having the hospital, medical university and the University of Arkansas near each other is ideal for improving health care and attracting new doctors, Moseley said.

"If you're interested in child health, you have a great facility, you have a medicine college that's focused on the creation of knowledge. That's how you recruit the best and brightest," he said.

That recruitment power has already shown itself. Montague said the hospital's providers have come from within Northwest Arkansas and as far afield as Alaska. Dr. Rob Williams, the hospital's chief medical officer, came from the children's hospital at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center.

Williams said he began his career with Arkansas Children's and had never been to Northwest Arkansas before. The move was all about returning to Children's and its mission and passion for taking care of kids that, perhaps surprisingly, isn't as strongly felt in every children's hospital, he said.

"There's something very special about Arkansas Children's," Williams said. "It's something that's top-down and something that's ingrained in the culture here."

NW News on 03/04/2018

Print Headline: Children's hospital brings new care opportunities

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