10 / 09 / 2022

Alice L. Walton Foundation and Washington Regional Medical System Form Partnership to Create a Transformative Health Care System in Northwest Arkansas

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Bentonville and Fayetteville, Ark. (April 25, 2022) – Today the Alice L. Walton Foundation and Washington Regional Medical System announced their intention to create a regional health system to improve health outcomes across Northwest Arkansas and beyond.

The announcement follows the news last year of a joint initiative through the Alice L. Walton Foundation and Cleveland Clinic to identify ways to provide access to Cleveland Clinic’s renowned specialty care services in Northwest Arkansas. The initiative was formed after a study highlighted that area residents frequently leave the region in order to receive specialty care.

Through these two initiatives, the Alice L. Walton Foundation and Washington Regional Medical System intend to work with Cleveland Clinic to support the growth of health care services in the region.

“This partnership is all about access, ensuring that residents of our thriving region have ready access to world-class health care services, including specialty care,” says philanthropist Alice Walton. “We’re bringing together three organizations with unique strengths—including Washington Regional’s excellence in serving this community, Cleveland Clinic’s innovative care, and my foundation’s focus on enhancing access—to offer a broader scope and scale of services to our region and beyond.”

This new partnership will:

- Increase access to specialty care services that will make it possible for patients and families to receive innovative care closer to home.
- Expand clinical services to reflect the growth of the Northwest Arkansas region.
- Build a regional health system that focuses on delivering high-quality, whole-person services across the continuum of care.
- Strengthen the transformation to value-based care in the region to ensure high quality, affordable care for the community.
- Develop a partnership with the Whole Health School of Medicine to establish a regional academic health system in Northwest Arkansas.
- Train the next generation of clinicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, and caregivers in the region.
- Bolster research capabilities of the Washington Regional Medical System.

“The creation of the regional health system will advance our mission and vision, including expanding our clinical, academic, and operational capabilities, and continuing to invest in our facilities,” says Larry Shackelford, President and CEO for Washington Regional Medical System. “Our mission is to improve the health of area residents through compassionate, high-quality care and wellness education, and to act as the central hub for clinical, educational and research activities in Northwest Arkansas. This partnership provides the resources to take our health care services to the next level to best serve our growing community.”

The Alice L. Walton Foundation and Washington Regional Medical System will now begin to develop operational plans for this new partnership, with an intent to finalize next steps during the remainder of this year.

The initiative between the Alice L. Walton Foundation and Cleveland Clinic focuses on developing solutions to provide patients in Northwest Arkansas greater specialty care access, which may include cardiac care, digestive health, neurosciences, oncology, orthopedics/spine and behavioral health.

“Cleveland Clinic is pleased to collaborate with the Alice L. Walton Foundation to touch more patients’ lives,” says Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., CEO and President, Cleveland Clinic. “We are committed to delivering the best possible care, by sharing our expertise in clinical care, research and education with the Northwest Arkansas community.”

Founded in 2017, the Alice L. Walton Foundation works to enhance quality of life for individuals and communities through providing access to offerings that enhance well-being. In 2020, Walton announced the formation of Whole Health Institute, and in 2021 she announced the formation of the Whole Health School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Both of these organizations, based in Bentonville, Ark., focus on redesigning the systems that impact health and well-being with the goal of making whole health accessible and affordable to all.

In partnership with Washington Regional Medical System and Cleveland Clinic, the foundation will focus on infusing whole health principles into the clinical, educational, and operational practices of this new health care system with the goal of improving health outcomes in the region and enhancing value-based care. The system will work with Whole Health School of Medicine to support academic and teaching opportunities as well.

“It’s essential that our health care system focus on the whole person—body, mind and spirit—to truly serve the community and improve health and well-being,” said Walton. “With this new partnership, we have the opportunity to take a transformative, innovative approach that can improve health outcomes now and chart the course for a healthier future.”

About the Alice L. Walton Foundation

Founded in 2017, the Alice L. Walton Foundation works to enhance the quality of life for individuals through providing access to offerings that improve well-being and create diverse and inclusive communities. The foundation focuses on philanthropist Alice Walton’s commitment to increasing access to the arts, improving education outcomes, enhancing health, and advancing economic opportunity for all. Through this work, the foundation strives to deliver meaningful and lasting change to individuals and communities most in need. Learn more at AliceWalton.org.

About Washington Regional Medical System

Washington Regional Medical System is a community-owned, locally governed, non-profit organization located in Northwest Arkansas. Washington Regional employs over 3,300 team members and serves the region with a 425-bed medical center, over 50 clinic locations and five Centers of Excellence - the Washington Regional J.B. Hunt Transport Services Neuroscience Institute; Washington Regional Walker Heart Institute; Washington Regional Women and Infants Center; Washington Regional Total Joint Center; and Washington Regional Pat Walker Center for Seniors. Washington Regional is the region’s only Level 2 trauma center, the first hospital in Northwest Arkansas and one of only two in the state to earn certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission, one of only two hospitals in the state to earn Spine Surgery certification from The Joint Commission, and is the first hospital in Arkansas to be named an Antimicrobial Stewardship Center of Excellence by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. U.S. News and World Report ranked Washington Regional as the #1 hospital in Arkansas and the #1 hospital in the Ozarks Region for 2021-22 and recognized Washington Regional as high performing in seven areas of care – stroke, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart attack, heart failure, hip replacement and knee replacement. Washington Regional is committed to improving the health of people in the communities it serves through compassionate, high-quality care, prevention, and wellness education. Visit wregional.com for more information, or follow Washington Regional on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 72,500 employees worldwide are more than 5,050 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,800 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,500-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 22 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2021, there were 10.2 million total outpatient visits, 304,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 259,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

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