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Arkansas Children’s will invest nearly $318 million into its Springdale and Little Rock hospitals to hire hundreds of new health care workers and build new facilities over the next eight years, the health system announced this month.

The project will be Arkansas Children’s largest-ever expansion and the first of its kind for the NWA hospital, which opened in early 2018 after $80 million in support was received from the region’s largest employers and other donors.

Arkansas Children’s Northwest replaced a smaller outpatient clinic and brought 24 inpatient beds, five operating rooms and a 24-hour emergency department. The need for pediatric care has only grown since, the health system said, pointing to a record 169,000 patients served statewide in 2022.

“For more than a century, Arkansas Children’s has written the story of cutting-edge pediatric care, expanding access and delivering excellence as we’ve evolved from an orphanage to a hospital to a pediatric health system,” Arkansas Children’s president and CEO Marcy Doderer said in a written statement. “We are building the future together in this next chapter in our story. The result will define excellence and deliver a healthier tomorrow for the children of Arkansas and the region.”

Many project details, such as the breakdown of investment between central and Northwest Arkansas, aren’t yet available, and Arkansas Children’s expects to publicize detailed schematics later this year. However, the plan at this time includes the recruitment of 100 new care providers, 400 other employees, the construction of 265,000 new square feet and the renovation of more than 170,000 square feet.

“We are very early in the process and are engaging several work groups and partners in this effort. We will take our time and do this right with our team and with the community,” said Arkansas Children’s COO Jamie Wiggins. “This has always been the state’s children’s health system and we will honor our partners in this process.”

The announcement is yet another major investment in Northwest Arkansas’ health care systems, which altogether are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build specialized facilities and hire hundreds of providers and providers-in-training. The Northwest Arkansas Council helps by connecting these various providers and seeking ways they can collaborate and grow.

“These investments are vital to ensuring that Northwest Arkansas residents can get the care they need close to home,” said Ryan Cork, executive director of the council’s Health Care Transformation Division. “I look forward to our continued collaboration with Arkansas Children’s along with the other regional health systems as we work to improve access to high-quality health care in Northwest Arkansas.”

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