The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is the only health sciences university in the state of Arkansas. We are the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees in 73 of Arkansas’ 75 counties. UAMS and its clinical affiliates, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center, are an economic engine for the state with an annual economic impact of $3.92 billion.
UAMS offers 73 baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral, professional and specialist degree programs and certificates through our Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions, Public Health and graduate school. Students attend classes at the UAMS main campus in Little Rock and our regional campus in northwest Arkansas.
With our combination of education, research and clinical programs, UAMS has a unique capacity to lead health care improvement in the state. UAMS is here for a better state of health!
The mission of UAMS is to improve the health, health care and well-being of the people of Arkansas and of others in the region, nation and beyond. As the state’s largest public employer, we want to make sure all Arkansans have access to quality health care wherever they live in the state. We’re educating the next generation of health care professionals. And we’re improving our knowledge through critical research. What’s more, we’ve been doing it all as we all work through the challenges and surges of the ongoing pandemic. This past year, we have so much to be proud of with special recognition for our entire university and specialty areas across UAMS. Here’s more about all the ways we’re creating a better state of health.
During the pandemic, UAMS was in many communities and continued to be in many communities around the state, providing testing through our mobile units, partnering with communities, churches, schools, other health care organizations, as well as all of our regional programs, have been vaccinating their own patients and members of the community, including the boosters.
Vision 2029 is our ten-year strategic plan. Our ultimate vision is to be the healthiest state in our region. Many of our goals, we’ve already seen great progress. We’ve created a statewide health system. We’ve incorporated our electronic health record across all of our facilities. And our research funding has increased, particularly in the area of cancer, a 40% increase, which is important to our goal of achieving NCI designation.
NCI designation will be of great value to the people of Arkansas. It will be highly valuable, but also build a very robust clinical trial operation which will bring new cutting edge, effective drugs, which up until now really not been available in this state. We have a number of major capital efforts undergoing. One is the brand new radiation oncology building… ensconced within the center of that building will be a proton beam facility that will be the only proton beam available in the state of Arkansas. Up until now, all of our patients who needed that had to go out of state.
UAMS Northwest, along with several regional partners is one of 60 finalists from over 500 applications for a $75 million grant through the Economic Development Administration. The Build Back Better grant, funded through the Rescue Care Act, will provide funding over the next five years to develop an e-transformation cluster in our region to focus on economic growth. Dr. Pearl McElfish is serving as the project director.
I’m so excited at the work that UAMS is doing to help the entire state of Arkansas. Some of the great research projects that we have going on right now today are a diabetes self-management program that is implemented everywhere from Texarkana to Batesville and some of the smallest communities in between. We just received a $10 million grant for COVID outreach that will be implementing community health workers in every county in the state of Arkansas. As we build out the cancer navigation program, you can rest assured that it will be in every corner of Arkansas.
Our division for diversity, equity and inclusion is really focused on launching pipeline programs which identify students from vulnerable communities and encourage them to engage in STEM curriculum from kindergarten through our professional schools. We have programs across the state… Jonesboro, Pine Bluff and Eldorado. And so our programs are there to identify where their strengths are and which career path may best suit them.
The northeast Family and Preventive Medicine Clinic has partnered with clinics in the northeast area to increase colorectal screening by 8%. In addition, the colorectal cancer screening program in the Cancer Institute, led by Dr. Henry-Tillman, has increased screening throughout the state. And especially in the time of COVID, where screening has been decreased, we’ve had a return rate of over 60%, which is incredible. So being able to provide these screenings will help save lives and hopefully will catch cancers at earliest stages.
The partnership with the University of Arkansas and its student athletes formally began in late December of 2020 are part of the care of the student athletes on a daily basis. It’s 24 hours a day for all 19 sports. As a proud member of the health care community in northwest Arkansas, I couldn’t be more excited really about anything than the facility that we’re planning. A facility that will house orthopedics, sports medicine and the service lines that that contribute to those physical therapy, clinics, surgical space, occupational therapy, hand therapy, sports performance. These are all assets that provide a huge contribution not only for our community, but for the state.
We’re the only transplant program in the state and people that need complex surgery in the liver that are referred by the local providers. We started setting up transplants satellite programs to provide our patients with a service in their hometown. It’s a lot easier to send one person out than have 30 people coming into Little Rock. We started this three years ago in Fayetteville, and we’ve since sent set up satellite clinics in Jonesboro, Texarkana and Pine Bluff with plans to expand to expand into West Helena and Fort Smith in the coming year. It also helps us connect with local health care providers in the area and establish that sort of health care relationship that’s so important in taking care of our patients.
We’ve opened new training locations, in particular northwest Arkansas, for the South Central Telehealth Resource Education Center. This allows for us to teach telehealth integration to health care facilities, classrooms and educational locations, as well as the community, particularly focusing on rural and underserved medical communities. These training centers are important to the state because telehealth and digital health are new ways to provide health care. We need to be able to educate not just providers, but also patients and their families on the best ways to make use of these tools and technologies.
The Gap Services offices were funded to do HIV prevention and substance abuse awareness. Our first offices was opened in Prescott, Arkansas, and we’re in the process of opening our second office in McGee, Arkansas. The Gap services are funded to fill the gaps so that we can reduce the stigma around HIV and substance abuse awareness and community members can feel comfortable coming into our location. We do health general health screenings, and we work with other community partners to offer COVID vaccines, COVID testing and sharing other resources.
With hard work, diligence and passion, a healthier Arkansas is well within reach. But there’s always more to do. Working together, I know we will not only meet the challenges ahead, but exceed them.