No. 450



If you did a random survey, I believe you will find that most people will tell you they do not care much about hospitals, that is, until they really need one. We have a fantastic 'world class' hospital in our capitol city, called the

Arkansas Children's Hospital. Admittedly, there is a little source of pride in what I am going to say. This is in no way meant to discount the fact that there are several other quality children's hospitals across the country. One reason is because it's an emotional issue for me. In our church we have a beautiful little seven year old girl who was diagnosed with brain cancer several months ago, and thanks to the surgeons, staff and several months of tender loving care at the Arkansas Children's Hospital, she is still with us today.

Several years ago my wife, Viola, used to work at this hospital and I visited there for lunch a couple of times, but other than passing by Children's on the freeway and seeing the constant construction, I didn't really know much about it. Thanks to the Arkansas Press Association, that all changed for me back in February of this past year when members of the press were invited to a special VIP " behind the scenes" tour. The invitation was extended by Suzanne Patton, Director of Communications, to all those who attended our Winter Convention. When we boarded the bus at our hotel, each person was given a number, which determined which small group we would be in for the tour.Ê

Some of the key units we visited that are not open to the public included: The NEW Ambulatory Surgery area, the NEW Donald W. Reynolds Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and the newly remodeled Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. When we arrived at each new unit we were required to put on the standard hospital cap and gown and we even got to keep the cap. One the lighter side, I sure don't want my picture in the paper wearing it. There were about 8 pods of 20 beds each in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It was something special to see bed after bed that contained a "premature baby" with life supports that gave him great odds of becoming a healthy, happy adult. You probably would not appreciate this very much, unless of course, you were a parent of one of these babies.

To give you a feel for just how large this hospital is, let me give you some numbers that are staggering. The hospital has 2,187 full time employees, 1, 028 part time and a medical staff of 456 people. This past year they had 33,775 Emergency room visits, 66,516 General Pediatric Clinic visits and 188,367 other Outpatient visits. It is also worthy to note that Children's Hospital is a major teaching affiliate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The offices and faculty of UAMS Department of Pediatrics are housed at Children' Hospital. On a daily basis, these people go about the task of restoring and maintaining life and health for all those under 21 who come to their doors, without regard to race, religion or inability to pay.

This will also be of interest to those in the health care field. The Arkansas Children's Hospital strives to offer the best in well-child care, as well as emergency medicine and acute care. The hospital offers a variety of inpatient specialty units to accomplish this mission. These include: Infant/Toddler, Hematology/Oncology, Neuroscience, Cardiovascular Intensive Care, Newborn Intensive Care, Pediatric Intensive Care, Orthopedics, Progressive Rehabilitation, Adolescent Medicine and Burn Center. The Burn Center is open to anyone regardless of age. Our own community utilized this service recently, when a chemical plant exploded and one of the victims had to be airlifted to Children's.Ê

It was a wonderful, once on a lifetime tour and we were also treated to another specialty of the hospital-fried catfish! This was followed by remarks from world-renowned pediatric cardiac surgeon, Dr. Jonathan Drummond-Webb. Dr. Drummond-Webb is originally from South Africa and was formerly at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Since Children's Hospital kept sending him so many children for heart surgery, they finally convinced him to come to Little Rock and head up the team.

There was one thing he talked about that really touched me. He said many times he would board an airplane at Children's Hospital and then fly to a distant city, harvest a heart from a child who had died, and then time his arrival back home where he would then transplant the harvested heart into another child who desperately needed it to continue to live. Like I said earlier, we don't care much about hospitals, until we really need one. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)