Northwest Arkansas health care took a major step forward on Friday as Little Rock's Arkansas Children's Hospital announced plans to build a new hospital campus in Springdale.
Children's Hospital President and CEO Marcy Doderer announced the new facility at the 8th Annual Color of Hope Gala on Friday night at John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers.
The 225,000-square-foot, 24-bed hospital will be built on 37 acres donated by David and Cathy (George) Evans, Gary and Robin George and their families. Cathy Evans and Gary George are the grandchildren of C.L. George, founder of Springdale-based George's Inc., a poultry company with 4,700 employees in the U.S.
The gift represents a historic investment in the future of pediatric health care in Arkansas.
The Springdale campus is part of ACH's broader plan to expand pediatric services across the state.
"We are going to blanket the state with services that will improve access to pediatric care and improve the health of children throughout our state," Doderer said. "There is no cookie-cutter approach to planning the delivery of excellent, comprehensive children's health care. Each area of the state will require a different approach. Based on conversations with physicians, business leaders and families, we know there are immediate needs right here that must be addressed."
The first step in improving access to care was marked by the arrival of two new Angel One helicopters earlier this summer. The second step in developing the new ACH statewide system is the planning pediatric hospital on the campus in Springdale.
ACH will detail additional plans for expanded services across Arkansas throughout the coming months.
The Northwest Arkansas hospital will sit on a Springdale campus located near Interstate 49 between Don Tyson Parkway and U.S. 412, bordered by South 56th Street and Watkins Avenue. It will be across the street from Arvest Ballpark.
The proposed facility will include:
- 24 inpatient beds
- An emergency department/urgent care center with 21 exam rooms
- 30 clinic exam rooms
- Five operating rooms
- Imaging capabilities (MRI, CT and routine x-ray)
- Diagnostic services (infusion, PFT, EEG, echo, neurophysiology, audiology, rehabilitation)
- A helipad with a refueling station
"Today, this project represents an estimated investment of $184 million over the next five years," said Dr. Robert Steele, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Arkansas Children's Hospital. "The ultimate scope and success of the project will depend greatly on generous individuals, corporations and foundations supporting the construction effort."
The population of Northwest Arkansas last year surpassed 500,000 residents. It is estimated that the pediatric population in the region is growing two to three times faster than in any other part of the state.
Last year, 21,000 children were treated at the ACH Clinic in Lowell. More than 450 children were transported to Arkansas Children's Hospital via Angel One helicopters and ambulances. With the proposed site location, 70 percent of Northwest Arkansas residents will be able to reach ACH's services within 30 minutes.
"There is a great need for improved, expanded services for children in Northwest Arkansas," said Fred Scarborough, chief development officer at Arkansas Children's Hospital and president of the Arkansas Children's Hospital Foundation. "This gift from these two families accelerates the plan for expansion of services. We are very grateful to Cathy and David Evans and Robin and Gary George for their vision and commitment."
The Evans and George families understand the importance of having access to world-class pediatric care close to home. Cathy and David Evans's daughter Erin was treated at ACH for a life-threatening heart condition and their grandson Benton was treated for a urology complication.
In 1982, Robin and Gary George's son Charles went into heart failure at only two weeks old. He was flown to ACH, where he received a cutting-edge procedure to repair his heart. In 2004, their two-year-old grandson Hayden Swope received life-saving care at ACH after contracting an E. coli infection.
"Once you've needed ACH, you realize the impact it has on the children of Arkansas," Gary George said. "My sister and I know firsthand how wonderful the physicians and staff are at ACH. Having access to that kind of world-class care right here in Springdale will be a game changer for so many families."