NWADG Progress 2018

2018 Progress

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Salaries not only factor in recruitment, retention Health & Wellness HEALTH SYSTEMS HEALTHY GROWTH Northwest Arkansas's health sys- tems continue to add space and ser- vices to care for more people. Mercy Northwest Arkansas, Northwest Health and Washington Regional Medical Center are all working on new procedures, ex- panding their locations and adding new ones in Benton and Washington counties. The three run dozens of facilities giving care for seemingly every biological system in the body. The changes provide more pri- mary and urgent care, the bread and butter for health systems, and branch into unexpected areas. Ro- bots, for example, are being put to new uses in operating and patient rooms. Expansions are happening out- side the major hospitals as well. Ar- kansas Children's Northwest hos- pital in Springdale is a newcomer. Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas, a network of clinics in multiple cities, plans to open two clinics in Rogers this year. Health care leaders make a point to say their highest priority is best serving patients who need health care for their joints or hearts or brains, but the competitive mindset isn't far behind: Those leaders also are quick to note when they're the only one around offering a particular service. The competition and improve- ments do nothing less than keep the region running and growing, said Graham Cobb, CEO of the Great- er Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce. He said health care is as essential as quality of life and affordable housing for keeping and attracting residents. "If you don't have health care that can keep up with that, you simply can't get the best and the brightest, the smartest and most productive workforce," Cobb said. "I don't think you can have enough, when you look at how many people are moving here." The U.S. Census estimates the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers met- ropolitan area grew by almost 12,000 people from mid-2015 to mid-2016 to surpass 525,000, making it the 22nd-fastest growing metropolitan area in the country by percentage. Here's a rundown of the big three systems, what they provide and how they're changing. MERCY NORTHWEST ARKANSAS Mercy runs its primary hospi- tal in Rogers and is in the middle of a multi-year regional expansion, spending more than $200 million to beef up facilities and branch in- to Washington County and smaller Benton County cities. Mercy opened a Pea Ridge pri- mary care clinic last year, more than a decade after it closed a Pea Ridge office for lack of patients, said Eric Pianalto, president of Mercy Hos- pital Northwest Arkansas. The new clinic is busy enough that the system sent a nurse practitioner to join the physician. Construction of a standalone pri- mary and specialty care clinic near Interstate 49 and Elm Springs Road in Springdale, meanwhile, was de- layed a few months to make the orig- inal design bigger. It'll have about 20 physicians on staff and more emer- gency department rooms. Two other primary care clinics are set to open this year in Benton- ville, while a seven-story tower at the Rogers medical center is slated to open next year with more than 100 beds. Mercy has added such services as outpatient hip replacement, which wouldn't require overnight stays. A cardiac laboratory will replace heart valves less invasively than open heart surgery in emergency cases starts this year. Pianalto said the three princi- ples that are guiding what the sys- tem calls its growth are: making it easier to access health care services throughout the region, providing better care, and bringing services here that previously required pa- tients to leave the area. He said the cardiac lab is among the first anywhere, for instance. And Mer- cy plans to expand telehealth and home-based programs. "But I don't think any of that will replace the need for one-to-one care," he added. So the system is looking at Nursing shortage gets look MEDICAL JOBS Hospitals, educators and community leaders are trying to stay competitive to recruit and keep medical professionals, specifically nurses, in Northwest Arkansas. The area has had a notable shortage of nurses for more than a decade, according to regional reports. As the Fayette- ville Metropolitan Statistical Area continues to grow, the need for nurses grows with it. The area includes Benton, Washington and Madison counties in Arkansas and McDonald County, Mo. Registered nurses make up 2 percent of all jobs and 34 percent of all health care practitioners/technical occupa- tions in the United States, according to May 2016 data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Northwest Arkansas, the estimated 3,280 nurses make up 1.4 percent of the overall workforce and 30 percent of health care employees. The U.S. has about nine nurses per 1,000 residents while Northwest Arkansas has six per 1,000, using 2016 Census Bureau data. One thing that stands out when comparing nursing jobs in Northwest Arkansas to peer regions is the difference in salaries. The Northwest Arkansas Council, an economic devel- opment organization, selected five peer regions in 2015 to benchmark the area's performance. The regions are Austin, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Madison, Wis.; and Durham-Chap- el Hill and Raleigh, N.C., according to the 2017 State of the Northwest Arkansas Region Report. The annual average wage of registered nurses in Northwest Arkansas is the lowest of the peer regions at $56,680, and the highest is $75,990 in Madison. Arkansas' average is $57,630, and nationally registered nurses make an average of $72,180, according to federal data. Northwest Arkansas is smaller than its peer regions and has the lowest average annual wages for all workers at $44,980, according to the region report. Peer regions ranged from $49,420 in Des Moines to $57,850 in Durham-Chapel Hill. The area has lower housing costs than the peer regions when comparing the cost of homeownership as percent of income. This is the biggest factor when comparing wage rates, said Mervin Jebaraj, interim director for the Center of Busi- ness and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas and who worked on the region report. COMMUNITY NEED Hospitals in Northwest Arkansas continue expanding with the needs of the community. There is an increased need for licensed health care pro- fessionals, including nurses, said Lisa Lightner, Washington Regional Medical Center executive director of talent acqui- sition and development. Lightner said recruiting medical professionals from across the nation to her hospital is more about getting them to fall Children's hospital expands options. 4S Exercise comes in many forms. 6S Region leads state, not nation. 8S Progress 2018 HEALTHY COMPETITION Sunday, March 4, 2018 1S Number of locations, services on rise NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Chad Frederick, R.N., explains the operation of robotic-assisted surgery Feb. 23 in the main operating room at North- west Medical Center-Springdale. Northwest Health uses robots in several procedures and last year started using it for patients needing lung surgery. DAN HOLTMEYER NWA DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE See GROWTH, Page 2S ASHTON ELEY NWA DEMOCRAT GAZETTE NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Catherine Beachner (right), a sophomore at the University of Ar- kansas, and student in the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing, stud- ies with other students for a test in the hall of the Eppley Center of Health Professions on the campus in Fayetteville. See JOBS, Page 2S Assisted Living Community Winner FAMILY OWNED & OPERATED Our family caring for your family with honor, dignity and respect. 2300 SE 28th Street | Bentonville 479.273.9969 • www.themeadowsinbentonville.com 5% Discount for Veterans

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