Reed Magazine November
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2004

A Careful Balancekids picture
ACH is the only pediatric medical center in the state of Arkansas, providing comprehensive, high-quality medical care to children from birth to age 21. It is one of the 10 largest pediatric hospitals in the nation and is frequently recognized for the quality of care that it offers its young patients and the cutting-edge research that is conducted at its facilities.

For example, ACH’s federally funded Nutrition Center is helping doctors and parents understand the importance of nutrition in the prevention of disease in children. A recent report showing an increase in obesity in Arkansas and the medically proven effect of obesity on society underscore the importance of this work. The research ACH conducts exemplifies the continuing need for diversity of many types of basic science, clinical, and translational research in expanding areas of science.

Bates image
Jonathan Bates ’67 is president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
Photo: Kelley Cooper
While hospitals are still places of treatment and healing, they also are businesses, and that’s never been more evident than now. ACH, like most hospitals today, still faces issues that are much more business than medical in nature.

“Hospitals today are at a crossroads of two diverging principles,” Bates says. “On one hand, people are looking for and demanding world-class care for themselves and for their families. On the other hand, the business managers and insurance companies are trying to control costs. It’s two principles that are diametrically opposed: no-holds-barred medical care and fiscally responsible management.” Bates believes it is the job of hospital managers and directors worldwide to reconcile the two. Bates says he also feels significant responsibility to the 3,500 ACH employees who count on the hospital as a solid place of employment.

Bates says hospitals do what many other businesses do to stay viable. They try to control costs and cut waste. They work to reduce delays, increase quality, and to focus the workforce on the goals of the organization.

“We see more than 11,000 patients in the hospital each year, then there’s the 252,000 that are treated as outpatients, and 33,000 that come through our emergency department. That’s a lot of people coming through the doors, and we have to be smart about how we treat them. But, while the business piece is very important, it can’t be my only focus. If it becomes the dominant purpose of a hospital, any hospital, then patient care suffers,” Bates says.

“ACH has been so successful because of our employees’ commitment to the goal of providing the best care for all children,” Bates says. “We can buy the best equipment and follow all the rules, but it’s the commitment and the heart of the people here that’s so precious and valuable. You can’t teach that and you certainly can’t buy it.”

Employees work within the system to develop new ways of doing business, to implement quality principles and to cut out extra steps, because they know that in the end, it will be the patients who benefit from the improved processes.

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Reed Magazine November

2004