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The Alice L. Walton Foundation and Cleveland Clinic today announced a joint initiative to identify ways of providing access to Cleveland Clinic’s renowned specialty care services in Northwest Arkansas. The organizations will assess specialty care needs in the region and develop recommendations for health care solutions to best meet those needs.

The Northwest Arkansas Council’s 2019 study, Northwest Arkansas Healthcare: Assessment, Economic Impact and Vision for the Future, found that while the region has high-quality, low-cost primary care, it is significantly underserved in specialty care. As a result, many residents travel out of town to receive these specialty services. In addition to the personal toll on families seeking care away from home, the region loses nearly $1 billion annually through care being provided elsewhere.

While Northwest Arkansas health care organizations continue to expand services, the region’s rapid growth combined with shortcomings in federal and state policy have made it difficult to meet the demand. 

The Northwest Arkansas Council’s health care vision for the future calls for the region to become a premier health care destination with increased access to care, available world-class specialty care, and integration of wellness of mind and body as an integral component of health care.

“As Northwest Arkansas continues to grow, it’s imperative that we increase access to specialty care in our region, so residents don’t have to travel elsewhere for care they could receive closer to home,” said philanthropist Alice Walton. “I’ve long admired Cleveland Clinic’s innovative approach to care that is aimed at elevating the well-being of the community with a system for lifelong health. Our goal with this collaboration to assess the specialty care needs of our region is to investigate how to make a transformative approach to health and well-being available to everyone.” 

The initiative between the foundation and Cleveland Clinic – working collaboratively with Northwest Arkansas health care leaders – represents a significant step toward addressing the region’s specialty care needs. 

Founded in 2017, the Alice L. Walton Foundation works to enhance quality of life for individuals and communities through providing access to offerings that enhance well-being. In 2020, Walton announced the formation of the Whole Health Institute, and earlier this year, she announced the formation of the Whole Health School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Both of these organizations, based in Bentonville, Ark., focus on redesigning the systems that impact health and well-being with the goal of making whole health accessible and affordable to all. 

The Alice L. Walton Foundation and Cleveland Clinic envision that any future specialty care initiatives they may develop in the region would collaborate with the Whole Health Institute to identify opportunities for increased patient experience and engagement, with the goal of improving health outcomes. 

“At Cleveland Clinic, our purpose is caring for others,” said Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., CEO and President of Cleveland Clinic. “We believe it is our responsibility to provide more patients with access to Cleveland Clinic’s safe, quality and compassionate care. The Alice L. Walton Foundation shares this commitment to serving others, and we are pleased to work together in support of the Northwest Arkansas community.” 

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. U.S. News & World Report recently named Cleveland Clinic the No. 2 hospital in the nation in the “2021-2022 Best Hospitals” rankings and has ranked it No. 1 in heart care for 27 consecutive years. 

Throughout its 100-year history, Cleveland Clinic has offered a team-based, physician-led model of care centered around the patient. Cleveland Clinic’s ability to provide world-class patient care is the product of its commitment to research and education, which also has contributed significant advancements toward the diagnosis and treatment of complex medical conditions. The organizational values are focused on safety and quality, teamwork, inclusion, empathy, innovation and integrity. Cleveland Clinic has grown into a globally integrated health care system with locations in Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Toronto, Abu Dhabi and London opening in early 2022. The health care system’s global network is dedicated to quality improvement through measuring and publishing clinical outcomes. 

“I’m delighted to work with Cleveland Clinic to determine how best to bring world class specialty care to Northwest Arkansas,” said Walton. “Our thriving region has always had a culture of collaboration and focus on serving the community’s needs. As we grow and welcome new residents daily, we will all benefit from increased access to excellent and innovative care.” 

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Special thanks to our major investors for their support of the Northwest Arkansas Council and our work in the region: