by Chris Bahn
Posted 1/28/2013 12:00 am
Springdale is not getting a new hospital, but it is getting a hospital that will look new.
Northwest Health System’s Springdale facility will remain at the same location at the southeast corner of Thompson Avenue and Maple Street it has occupied for six decades.
The hospital is getting a facelift that administrators hope will improve perception with some local residents.
Portions of a $12 million renovation and expansion, like additional parking, improved waiting room and lobby areas, are already complete. All phases of the project, which adds 30,000 SF and close to doubles available exam rooms, will be finished by June.
Chief Operating Officer Michael Stewart sees the improvements as an opportunity to advance the hospital’s brand in northwest Arkansas.
Think of it as improved curb appeal for the hospital.
“I’ve had business leaders tell me they heard we’re getting a new hospital in Springdale,” Stewart said. “No, there’s been a hospital in Springdale for 60 years, but this increases our visibility and awareness in the community.”
Increased visibility and awareness are important with so many health care options in the area. Northwest Health is one of three medical systems in northwest Arkansas, and Stewart points out there are four other hospitals in Washington and Benton counties. Choices are plentiful, but in the future Stewart wants to be the first choice for locals.
Making Northwest Health System’s Springdale hospital a preferred choice to the city’s 70,000 residents and then in
the surrounding area is among the primary goals Stewart set when he took over as COO a year ago. Stewart estimates — “back of the napkin figures,” he calls them — that the hospital currently has a 50 percent market share, but he’d like to see that grow to 85 percent.
While he admits that is a big goal, Stewart said it gives the staff of 900-plus employees something to work toward each day.
Using a sports analogy to describe his approach to managing the hospital, Stewart likens himself to a new coach taking over a football program with three wins and 10 losses on a 13-game schedule.
He calls 2012 a seven-win, six-loss season and says he hopes to take another leap — in services offered, quality of service and market share — this year.
“We are still the dominant market share for Springdale, but we have significant opportunities left,” Stewart said. “I think there’s plenty of business for everybody to have their fair share.”
Springdale’s hospital has a rich history in the area, employees there note. It was the site of the area’s first open heart surgery. It was the only local hospital to provide 3D mammography. Other facilities in the area followed Springdale when it came to chest pain accreditation.
Among what Stewart calls the distinctive product lines offered at the hospital are psychiatric and geriatric care. The hospital is looking to expand its pediatrics. Stewart has added 15 doctors to the staff since he began overseeing the hospital last year.
Local awareness of those services should increase through the improvements being made.
While the hospital has had three significant renovation projects since 2006, this could be the most meaningful from a perception standpoint, Stewart said.
“Sometimes people equate quality of care with the façade,” Stewart said. “We feel like we do a decent job of taking care of the patients and by having a new façade, people will give us the benefit of the doubt on that.” n