Children's Northwest Chief Opens Ears For Job Ahead

Children's Northwest Chief Opens Ears For Job Ahead
Shannon Hendrix (Arkansas Children's)

For the next three months, Shannon Hendrix plans to do a lot of listening.

Hendrix was recently named the chief administrator of Arkansas Children’s Northwest, and her first day is Dec. 14.

“I consider myself an informed listener,” Hendrix told Arkansas Business. Her first 100 days on the job will be spent visiting the staff “and really listening to our team” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hendrix replaces Trisha Montague at the 24-bed pediatric hospital. Montague, who managed its design and opening in early 2018, has been promoted to interim chief operating officer of the Arkansas Children’s system. She plans to retire in 2021 after 43 years in pediatric health, according to a news release.

Hendrix said she’ll be working with Montague and other leaders at ACN and will follow a five-year strategic plan to “expand our clinical services and additional outreach opportunities.”

In the summer, ACN added a pediatric cardiologist and pediatric neurologist to the staff.

And last month, ACN and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Orthopedics Northwest announced that they had started a pediatric sports medicine program to care for athletes at partnering high schools in the area. The partnership includes clinical coverage at ACH by UAMS sports medicine specialists, as well as sports medicine coverage on the sidelines and practices at local high schools, according to a joint news release.

ACN will provide sports medicine coverage in the Farmington and Fayetteville school districts and has plans to expand, the release said.

In the next few years, ACN also plans to add services including general surgery, gastrointestinal, hematology-oncology, orthopedics, pulmonology and primary care.

Hendrix said she doesn’t have any plans to cut or reduce any services. “We’re just … evaluating the need in that community and being able to respond to the needs,” she said.

Most of ACN’s patients came from Washington and Benton counties for its fiscal year that ended June 30, according to a financial statement on file with EMMA, the website funded and operated by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board. During the fiscal year that ended June 30, the hospital had 36,058 outpatient visits, an increase of 6.9% from the previous year. And emergency room visits were up 18% to 26,624. Total surgeries also increased, rising 16.1% to 2,951 in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Meanwhile, Hendrix will deal with the pandemic, which has upended health care systems across the country.

Hendrix said that during the pandemic Arkansas Children’s has worked hard to make sure its environment is safe.

“Our doors remain open,” Hendrix said. “We want people to still continue to come for their well child visits and emergency visits if they need to.”

For the fiscal year that ended June 30, Arkansas Children’s system reported $724.4 million in total revenue, up 3% from the previous year. Its income from operations was $28.9 million, a decline of 6.7% from fiscal 2019.

Arkansas Children’s Northwest’s net income from operations for fiscal 2020 was $5.9 million, according to a spokeswoman. In fiscal 2019, it had a loss from operations of $7.7 million.

‘A Passionate Advocate’

Hendrix, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nutrition from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, worked at CHI St. Vincent Infirmary in Little Rock before joining Arkansas Children’s in 2013 as director of clinical nutrition.

After about four years in that position, where she managed the hospital’s clinical dietitians, the Stuttgart native was promoted to vice president of clinical and diagnostic services, where she oversaw several of Arkansas Children’s ancillary departments, such as radiology, lab and social services support.

“Shannon has overseen, with notable success, essential clinical services and operations key to the continued growth of Arkansas Children’s Northwest,” Montague said in the news release. “She is a passionate advocate for children who knows how to run, and more importantly, grow the operations and services of a full-service hospital that is part of our state’s only pediatric health system.”

Hendrix said she enjoys working for Arkansas Children’s because of its mission of championing children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow.

Hendrix said everyone is generally in a good mood working at Children’s Hospital. “We all come together around the same purpose,” she said.