LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – Arkansas Children’s shared Monday how it is reaching more children in more ways to improve the health of the state’s 710,000 children, promising care where children live, learn and play.
“We’ve dedicated more than a century to providing care to critically ill and injured children, but our work won’t be finished until Arkansas is the healthiest, safest place to be a child,” said Arkansas Children’s President & CEO Marcy Doderer, FACHE. “Working in collaboration with other champions for children, we can change the story for the children of Arkansas.”
Over the last four years, Arkansas Children’s has crafted a statewide plan to champion children in every corner of Arkansas in order to improve the state’s child health standards. At the plan’s core are two children’s hospitals, an enterprising research institute, a separate foundation dedicated to raising funds, community clinics and education and outreach programs.
The backdrop for this announcement was the new Arkansas Children’s Hospital Southwest Little Rock Community Clinic, scheduled to open in June 2017.
Arkansas Children’s seeks to unite local partners, ranging from community physician practices to state agencies and food pantries, in the effort to create a safer, healthier future for all Arkansas children.
“We’ve spent four years studying how we might create a healthier tomorrow for Arkansas children, to offer them better opportunities and share with their families our unyielding commitment,” said Doderer, who joined Arkansas Children’s as President & CEO in 2013. “We have determined the best way to fundamentally improve the health of Arkansas children is by removing as many barriers as possible.”
Most national health indicators rank Arkansas in the bottom 10 percent. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says Arkansas ranks at 46th in child health. And the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT report, regarded as one of the most thorough assessments of child wellbeing, places Arkansas at No. 44.
One of the greatest challenges in reaching more children in more ways is the vast difference in children-per-square-mile from one corner of the state to the other. For example, there are 122 children per square mile in Pulaski County, while there are only four per square mile in Lincoln and Desha counties. In northwest Arkansas, there are 78 children per square mile, but only 36 per square mile in northeast Arkansas.
“We all understand there is no single method for delivering care close to home for all children. We must find innovative ways to reach children in the more rural areas of the state,” Doderer said. “We’re looking at such emerging programs as telemedicine to connect Arkansas Children’s specialists to local pediatricians or primary care physicians so families have expert specialty care right in their backyards.”
The Arkansas Children’s Hospital mobile dental program, a partnership with Ronald McDonald House charities and Delta Dental, is one such innovation. The program reaches approximately 1,200 Arkansas children every year with full-service dental care at school, making it easier for children to get the treatment needed without missing school days. The program has provided 18,000 Arkansas children with dental sealants during school hours over the last eight years.
Regional clinics, like one that already treats children in Jonesboro, are another essential component.
The Arkansas Children’s Hospital Southwest Little Rock Community Clinic, under construction on Dailey Drive, is set to open in June. The facility will offer bilingual primary care for all children in the area, with 15 exam rooms, a laboratory and X-ray services. The area is home to about 35,000 children, and there are currently only a handful of pediatric providers nearby.
As part of its evolution, Arkansas Children’s is integrating an updated logo to reflect these efforts.
“We want families to know that as we grow to reach more children, our look will also change just a bit,” Doderer said. “But what remains constant is our unyielding commitment to put the children of Arkansas at the center of all we do.”