Arkansas Children's Hospital South Wing Ready for Kids

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, May. 28, 2012 12:00 am  

David Berry, chief operating officer of Arkansas Children's Hospital: "It's a 21st-century children's hospital." (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

In April 2009, ACH tried again to sell the bonds. It also received another A+ rating from Standard & Poor’s. “The stable outlook reflects ACH’s essentiality as the only children’s hospital in the region and the hospital’s continued favorable operating performance,” the April news release from Standard & Poor’s said.

The bonds were sold in May 2009 and were a success, Berry said. The total amount of bonds sold was $111.2 million.

See also: South Wing Construction Project Faced Obstacles

Patient Shifts

As the project was being built, other changes occurred: The large increase in patients that ACH saw between 2002 and 2006 had slowed down — or even declined.

Inpatient admissions for its fiscal year that ended in June stood at 14,114, essentially flat for the past two years. Outpatient visits were 307,023 in its fiscal 2011, which was down 1.07 percent from the previous year. The number of operations was up, though, to 13,814 in fiscal 2011, an increase of 3.6 percent.

Berry said the declines in patients weren’t tied to the sluggish economy. “We’re not absolutely certain what it’s about,” he said.

It might be attributed to the decrease in the number of babies being born, Berry said. Between 2007 and 2010 the annual number of births in Arkansas fell 13 percent to 5,229.

In addition, other hospitals around the state have opened their own neonatal nurseries, which treat some of the patients that previously would have been cared for at ACH, he said.

Also, more treatments are taking place in the clinics or as outpatient procedures. “We have kids that are treated for cancer that very seldom spend a night in the hospital,” Berry said.

Before the South Wing was built, ACH projected it would have between 240 and 250 patients a day in the hospital and then the numbers would grow.

“We’ll have 370 beds, and we knew we weren’t going to fill those instantly,” he said. “I think we’ll get there. … Things come in cycles. We just happen to be in a slower cycle at the moment.”



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