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$5 million to expand oncology, hematology care at children's hospital

by Alex Golden | August 3, 2019 at 1:07 a.m.
NWA Democrat Gazette/SPENCER TIREY Children's Hospital Northwest supporters in Springdale has started $5-million drive to a expand services for children with cancer and blood disorders.

SPRINGDALE -- Supporters plan to raise $5 million to help Arkansas Children's Northwest expand services for children with cancer and blood disorders, the hospital system's president and chief executive officer said.

Marcy Doderer said the Will Golf 4 Kids tournament and Color of Hope Gala committees have pledged to raise the money over the next five years.

Child cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14. About 1,190 children younger than 15 are expected to die from cancer in 2019.

Source: American Cancer Society

The two committees previously pledged to raise $5 million to build the hospital, which opened in February 2018. Doderer said Friday morning she expected the Color of Hope committee to surpass its original $5 million fundraising goal at its gala later that night. Arkansas Children's is based in Little Rock.

The money will allow Children's Northwest to treat more children critically ill with cancer at the Springdale hospital. The most critically ill will still go to Little Rock because Children's Northwest doesn't have a pediatric intensive care unit, Doderer said.

Children's Northwest will immediately be able to hire a second oncologist and purchase four monitoring systems for children with cancer who are staying in the hospital's inpatient unit, she said.

"Children with cancer are some of our most vulnerable patients. Even when they're stable, you have to monitor them in special ways, and you need teams of people who understand those diagnoses," Doderer said.

The monitoring systems cost about $33,000 each.

The money raised by the committees will pay for up to six new positions, including the oncologist, nurses and support services staff for the hospital's hematology/oncology program, according to a news release from the hospital. The money will also cover construction work in the hospital's pharmacy.

"This construction project ensures the safest/highest quality chemo for children in Northwest Arkansas," according to an email from Hilary DeMillo, Arkansas Children's spokeswoman.

Other health professionals in the area said the expansion will benefit children in Northwest Arkansas.

Highlands Oncology Group has clinics in Fayetteville and Rogers and is working on a new clinic in Springdale. Highlands treats children, but mostly adults, said Kathey Rhoads, retired chief operating officer for Highlands.

Children must see a pediatric oncologist before receiving treatment at Highlands, she said.

"I think it's great to have Children's here and for it to have the ability to expand all the time," she said.

Likewise, Dr. Orrin Davis of Northwest Arkansas Pediatrics, said "The addition of the Oncology subspecialty at Arkansas Children's Hospital Northwest will provide convenience for our patients and their families not only for diagnosis, but also for treatments. This will save the patients and their families the time and expense of traveling to Little Rock."

Northwest Arkansas Pediatrics is a clinic of Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas.

About 11,060 children in the United States younger than 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society.

About 100 new patients a year are diagnosed with cancer at Arkansas Children's, and the hospitals in Little Rock and Springdale combined treat about 250 cancer patients at any given time, DeMillo said. Seventy-seven patients received chemo treatments at Children's Northwest between Jan. 8 and May 30.

After accidents, cancer is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14 . About 1,190 children younger than 15 years old are expected to die from cancer in 2019.

Erin Johnson's 4-year-old daughter, Tori, was diagnosed with brain cancer at 9 months old at Arkansas Children's in Little Rock. Tori, who lives in Rogers, was airlifted to Little Rock on three occasions. She had surgery, received five rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, three rounds of stem cell transplant and six weeks of radiation over the course of nine months. Johnson and her husband had to drive back and forth to Little Rock while working in Northwest Arkansas.

A seizure sent Tori to Children's Northwest's emergency room in April.

"They were able to get her in that night here for a scan," Johnson said. "We didn't have to get on a helicopter."

Tori is cancer-free and sees an oncologist, a neurologist and an endocrinologist at Children's Northwest.

NW News on 08/03/2019

Print Headline: $5 million to expand oncology, hematology care at children's hospital


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