Arkansas Children’s will further transform child health in northwest Arkansas through a $25 million investment from the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, Inc. In recognition of this gift – the largest in Arkansas Children’s history – the Arkansas Children’s Northwest (ACNW) campus will be named the Pat Walker Campus.
Of the generous $25 million donation, $12.5 million will support expansion efforts, including an addition to the Springdale hospital announced earlier this year. The remaining $12.5 million will create an endowment — benefiting ACNW in perpetuity and helping meet the needs of children in the region for generations to come.
Mandy Macke, executive director of the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, Inc., announced the historic gift, also the largest single donation Walker Foundation has ever made, during the 15th annual Gala of Hope at the Fayetteville Public Library.
“Pat played such an integral role in making sure the children of Arkansas have every advantage they can have,” said Macke. “That includes quality health care close to home. Our involvement in Arkansas Children’s Northwest was a part of Pat’s plan. This next step of where we’re going with Arkansas Children’s Northwest is part of our tribute.”
During the event, Arkansas Children’s leaders invited the northwest Arkansas community to follow the generous example of the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, Inc. Their gift is one piece of a tremendous investment that will be required to meet the needs of the region’s children in the years ahead. Northwest Arkansas’ growth trajectory will quickly result in more children needing access to specialized health care services.
“Pat Walker’s love of children and northwest Arkansas shines across this region, and Arkansas Children’s is deeply grateful to have a role in continuing her unwavering legacy in the years ahead,” said Marcy Doderer, FACHE, president and CEO of Arkansas Children’s. “Her spirit of generosity and compassion will ensure thousands more Arkansas children have access to exceptional care that allows them to reach their fullest potential.”
In May, Arkansas Children’s announced the expansion at its two hospitals as part of its commitment to make its highly specialized services more accessible for all Arkansas children, with an eye on Northwest Arkansas’ accelerated growth. The project will deliver better access, exceptional outcomes and improved on-campus experiences at the state’s nationally-ranked pediatric health system.
Arkansas Children’s Northwest opened in 2018, with a commitment that the hospital would expand to meet the needs of this rapidly growing region. The expansion’s primary focus areas are orthopedics, urology, gastroenterology and ear, nose and throat. These efforts will expand the acuity of services provided and the complexity of surgeries performed. The four-story addition will connect to the current floors of the hospital, and the project will add inpatient beds, operating rooms and a new endoscopy suite. The plan also calls for additional outpatient clinic space in the adjacent Children’s Center for Health & Wellness, where patients currently attend primary care appointments.
“Pat Walker was a founding matriarch of northwest Arkansas, and she wanted the very best for our children,” said Fred Scarborough, executive vice president and chief development officer for Arkansas Children’s. “This generous gift from the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation will put children’s best interests at the forefront through transformational changes that improve access to care as we continue to deliver a premium experience to patients and families.”
The annual earnings of the endowed fund the Walker Foundation gift establishes will help Arkansas Children’s Northwest recruit the most highly qualified providers and meet key long-term needs, including purchases such as specialized state-of-the-art equipment that will lead to better outcomes for children.
The Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, Inc., is a long-time supporter of Arkansas Children’s. In 2003, the foundation committed $1 million to support ventilators in the ACH neonatal intensive care unit. In 2011, ACH received a $2 million gift toward outpatient clinic and emergency room expansion. In 2018, the foundation gave a transformational $8 million gift toward the construction of ACNW, the first and only pediatric hospital in the northwest Arkansas region.
“Pat was very passionate about helping children, and I know it would have brought her great joy to have seen Arkansas Children’s Northwest come to fruition. To know her name will soon adorn the campus is enough to bring tears to my eyes,” said Macke. “The Walker Foundation is pleased to play a role in the continuous journey of making children better today and healthier tomorrow.”