Health care in Northwest Arkansas has continued to expand despite the ongoing recession, adding services and updating buildings and equipment.
Three of the four largest hospitals in Benton and Washington counties moved into new facilities in the past 10 years, and construc- tion began on another in March.
Northwest Health Systems is expanding its emergency room in Springdale, remodeling the preoperative center in Bentonville and recently opened a new breast-imaging center at Willow Creek Women’s Hospital in Johnson.
Mercy Health System in Rogers recently completed phase one of the expansion of its Mercy Heart and Vascular Center, and the second phase is under way.
At Washington Regional Medical Center, a new interventional radiology suite was completed last year and a new hospice home is being built and is expected to open late this year.
Bill L. Bradley, president and CEO of the not-for-profit Fayetteville hospital, said the state of the economy is secondary to meeting patient needs when considering adding services or expanding facilities.
“For several years, we have heard members of our com- munity express their desire for Washington Regional to offer expanded end-of-life clinical services in a special, homelike facility dedicated to that cause,” he said.
“In combination with some very community-minded donors — particularly the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, the Walmart Foundation and many others — we concluded the inpatient hospice facility was financially feasible at this time.”
Siloam Springs Memorial Hospital was managed by the city for nearly 60 years. But lacking the funds to build a much-needed new facility, the city entered a pact with Community Health Systems of Franklin, Tenn., in 2009.
The deal includes construction of a new hospital covering more than 92,000 square feet that is expected to open in 2013.
“Given the expected growth of west Benton County, Siloam Springs and the adjacent counties in Oklahoma, it was apparent to the city leaders that expanded medical facilities, new education facilities and highway expansions were needed,” said Kevin Clem- ent, hospital CEO. “The city is doing a great job preparing for the future.”
Clement said with health-care and education improvements, the community will be in a stron- ger position to attract and retain industry, create jobs and grow the tax base for additional community improvements.
Northwest Medical Center- Springdale is expanding its emer- gency room, also to keep pace with the area’s continually growing population. The emergency room was designed to accommodate 25,000 people a year but is currently serving about 35,000, said hospital CEO Dan McKay.
“Although we are very proud of our staff and physicians for being able to do this and maintain a high level of patient satisfaction, as well as meeting our 15 minutes to triage pledge, we really needed to build a new and larger facility,” McKay said. “Now that we have purchased the land around the hospital, we are moving forward with the expansion.”
He said the breast-imaging center at Willow Creek Women’s Hospital in Johnson was “desper- ately needed,” and as soon as the clinic was opened, it was booked with mammography appoint- ments.
Mercy Medical Center of Northwest Arkansas, which opened in its new Interstate 540 location in 2008, is also meeting its growing community’s needs by consolidating services and reno- vating buildings.
“By consolidating all the heart and vascular services, we are trying to take something that is ininherently stressful and make it an improved experience for the patients and their families,” said CEO Scott Street.
Phase one of the renovation, which encompassed about 10,000 square feet, included the addition of a separate sec- ond-floor entrance, a private discharge area, a pre-procedure and post-procedure unit with 11 beds dedicated to cardiac patients, a fourth catheteriza- tion lab, a new cardiac-imaging suite and the addition of the Artis — the state’s first multiaxis C-arm system. This new C-arm allows doctors to see and photograph hard-to-see arteries and lessens the invasiveness of certain procedures.
When complete, phase two will provide a second-floor bridge connector from Mercy Physicians Plaza to the new hospital entrance, a more convenient discharge exit, and additional parking for cardiac patients.