Growth of Arkansas Children’s Hospital

Leland McGinness served as CEO of ACH for 11 years, from 1972 – 1983. Randall O’Donnell was appointed Chief Operating Officer in 1980 and he was then CEO in 1983. These two hospital leaders worked closely with Dr. Robert Fiser and Dr. Betty Lowe, the ACH Medical Director, and provided leadership at ACH through the ongoing years of rapid growth. The first significant expansion of ACH, called the South Wing, opened in September, 1979. At that time, the total number of hospital beds was 126. The new East Wing opened in February 1982, with 4 units: 3-blue dedicated to surgery, 3-green focused on general medicine, 3-gold dedicated to hematology/oncology, and 3-orange focused on orthopedics.  By this time the ACH bed capacity had grown to 189, including 20 NICU bassinets. Two more floors, the fourth and fifth floors, were added in the late 1980’s, and by 1991-1992 ACH operated 268 hospital beds. In 1991, following Dr. Robert Fiser’s vision of expanding the research capacity in the Department of Pediatrics and ACH, the leadership of both UAMS and ACH signed a cooperative agreement to develop the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Randall O’Donnell resigned in the fall of 1992 and Dr. Jonathan Bates was named CEO of ACH in May, 1993.

There was limited available space to house faculty in the early years. As noted earlier, Dr. Fiser moved from UAMS to the ACH campus in 1977 into what was known as the “Blue House”. Across the street several faculty resided in the “White House”. The hospital began to buy houses in the blocks contiguous to the hospital, and ultimately they brought in several trailers for office space for faculty in 1981. Office space for faculty continued as a major challenge for the Department of Pediatrics and ACH until the opening of the Roy and Christine Sturgis Educational building in 1987, located contiguous to the hospital. The majority of the DOP faculty moved to the 3rd and 4th floor of the Sturgis at that time.