The St. Bernards Development Foundation has received a $100,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program to help fund the new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Bernards Medical Center.
“We are grateful for this generous gift from the Walmart Foundation,” says St. Bernards Healthcare President and Chief Executive Officer Chris B. Barber. “Walmart plays a large role in the lives of many people throughout the region, and we are pleased that the Walmart Foundation has chosen to help St. Bernards as we provide this new much-needed service to area residents by helping us fund the new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Bernards.
“Both the gift and the service represent ways Walmart and St. Bernards show their commitment to the communities we serve,” he emphasizes. “The creation of our NICU is enabling many parents and their premature and sick babies to stay closer to home for specialized care. And this substantial gift from Walmart helps us provide care which previously was not available in Northeast Arkansas.”
The grant was presented Wednesday at St. Bernards.by Chris Neeley, director of public affairs for Walmart.
Walmart officials met with senior leaders at St. Bernards and also toured the new NICU, the only such facility in the eastern part of Arkansas.
The 12-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was developed in conjunction with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock to care for premature and seriously ill infants. It provides care for infants born at 32 weeks of pregnancy and weighing approximately three and one third pounds.
The special unit, a part of the Arkansas Regional Neonatal Network, will have a major impact on families who live in this part of the state, allowing up to 150 premature or sick babies each year to remain in Northeast Arkansas for highly specialized care. In the past they were sent to Little Rock for delivery and/or care in intensive care nurseries at UAMS or Arkansas Children’s Hospital, meaning that many families had to establish some kind of residence in Little Rock or be separated from their babies while they required NICU care.
The St. Bernards NICU has changed things in that regard, allowing many parents to stay at home – or at least closer to home – while their babies receive NICU care.
Neonatologist Dr. Douglas Seglem serves as the medical director of the St. Bernards NICU and leads the specially trained multidisciplinary team that provides care for NICU babies. In addition to Seglem, the team includes pediatricians, nurses and respiratory therapists as well as others who work I the fields of pharmacy, dietary, non-invasive cardiology, laboratory, radiology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, education, pastoral care and social work.
The St. Bernards NICU has been constructed and is being equipped at a cost of approximately $1.5 million, with funding coming from a capital campaign being conducted by the St. Bernards Development Foundation.
“The Walmart Foundation is pleased to be supporting St. Bernards and its new NICU as a part of a program that helps those in need in the communities where we serve,” said Neeley. “This grant obviously will help provide much needed services that have not been available in this area before.”
The gift to St. Bernards was made possible through the Walmart Foundation’s Arkansas State Giving Program. The Walmart Foundation supports organizations that a create opportunities so people can live better and puts emphasis on grants that will have a long-lasting, positive impact on communities.