May 16, 2023 - Health

What the Arkansas Children's expansion means for NWA

Illustration of a round bandaid in the shape of smiley face on a child's arm

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Arkansas Children's earlier this month announced a $318 million expansion to include new construction, redesign and additional staff at its Little Rock and Springdale hospitals.

Why it matters: The hospital is in a position to serve as a hub for pediatric care for a four-state region. The development project aims to help kids who live in NWA and nearby out-of-state areas get the care they need closer to home, president and CEO Marcy Doderer told Axios.

By the numbers: Of the $318 million, about $83 million will go toward Arkansas Children's Northwest.

  • A four-story addition will connect the current four floors of the hospital; but it'll look like it was originally built together, Doderer said.
  • Between 10 and 14 beds will be added to the existing 24.
  • Doderer expects to add 40 new doctors in NWA over the next six years, as well as 100 other employees, including nurses.
  • The expansion's primary focus areas are orthopedics, urology, gastroenterology and ear, nose and throat. The hospital will be able to take on more complex surgeries and grow its infusion center, where patients with cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatology concerns and genetic conditions receive treatment.

Of note: The additional services and staff will cut down on how often Children's doctors from Little Rock have to travel to NWA and how often NWA children are sent to Little Rock.

  • Yes but: Children's Northwest has no plans to add an intensive care unit. Some services, such as neurosurgery, will only be offered in Little Rock.

Background: The Springdale hospital opened in 2018. Since, it's added and expanded specialties such as cardiology, neurology and endocrinology. It also added a sports medicine program and focused on oncology and hematology services.

  • In addition to specialties, the hospital offers primary care services and an emergency room.

Zoom out: A new ambulatory surgery center will be built at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, as well as a skybridge connecting the new building to the rest of the hospital. The Sturgis Center, which houses outpatient clinics, will be gutted and rebuilt.

  • A combined 265,000 square feet will be added to both hospitals. Officials couldn't confirm specifically how much of that will be added to Children's Northwest.

What's next: Children's is in the site planning and design phases; completion is planned for spring 2026.


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