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story.lead_photo.caption Kathleen McLaughlin (right), president of the Walmart Foundation, and Marcy Doderer (on podium), president and chief executive officer of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, get some help revealing an $8 million gift from the foundation to the hospital Monday. - Photo by J.T. Wampler

SPRINGDALE -- Wal-Mart and the Walmart Foundation on Monday moved Arkansas Children's Hospital $8 million closer to having enough money to build a Northwest Arkansas campus.

People gathered in the Sam's Club Community Room at Arvest Ballpark for the announcement that the foundation will donate to the campus. Children filed into the room, stood by the stage and held up signs showing the amount of the donation: $8 million.

Photo by J.T. Wampler
Jimi Tucker of Fayetteville wears a hard hat Monday before helping reveal an $8 million gift from the Walmart Foundation to help build Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale. The hospital should be built and open by January 2018. Tucker is a leukemia survivor treated at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

The estimated cost for construction, technology and equipment is $167 million, according to the hospital. It will cost an estimated $260.7 million to operate for the first five years.

Arkansas Children's Hospital Foundation, the hospital's fundraising arm, aims to raise $70 million for the project, Trisha Montague, the hospital's senior vice president of regional services, has said. Marcy Doderer, president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Children's Hospital, said she didn't know how much of the $70 million was left to raise. She said people can expect more major announcements in the coming weeks.

Leaders announced plans in August for the hospital to be built near Arvest Ballpark on land donated by Gary and Robin George and David and Cathy Evans. Plans show a campus of about 36 acres on the northeast corner of the intersection of Watkins Avenue and South 56th Street. Interstate 49 borders the property's east side.

Hospital officials said they hope the new campus will help remove financial and travel barriers for families with children in need of treatment, Doderer said.

The hospital will help round out the medical resources in Northwest Arkansas, said Loy Bailey, administrator for the Benton County Health Unit.

Children's Hospital and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences need to expand services and research in Northwest Arkansas to care of the growing population, said Pearl McElfish, director of research for UAMS, Northwest. It also could make Northwest Arkansas a health care destination, she said.

Strengthening the community in which they live and work is a priority for Wal-Mart executives, said Kathleen McLaughlin, the retailer's chief sustainability officer and president of the foundation. That includes improving access to health care, she said.

More than 200,000 children live in Northwest Arkansas, according to a news release. Monday's donation is one of the largest Wal-Mart and the Walmart foundation have given for health care.

The most critical cases still will need to be transferred to Little Rock, and the Springdale site will not include a neonatal intensive care unit.

The hospital's clinic in Lowell serves about 22,000 children per year, Montague said. The new hospital will have multiple services that aren't offered at the clinic, such as chemotherapy infusions and an MRI machine.

The hospital is set to open in January 2018, Montague said. Officials have said they plan to move all of the clinic's services to the new hospital at one time.

In 2014, Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock had about 49,000 outpatient visits from patients living in Washington and Benton counties, Montague said. There were about 2,200 inpatient visits from patients living in those counties, 450 of whom were transported by helicopter.

Montague projected the hospital in Springdale in its first year will have about 1,700 visits for inpatient care, about 30,000 emergency visits, about 30,000 clinic visits and about 2,800 visits for surgeries, most of which will be outpatient procedures.

The building will have five floors with entry at ground level and no basement, she said.

State Desk on 05/10/2016

Print Headline: Wal-Mart arm donates $8M for NW Children's Hospital

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