Oct. 9, 2009 | The College of Health Related Professions at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) found that 38 years of patience can pay off when most of the college’s 17 programs recently moved into a common home.
The college held a Sept. 29 open house to celebrate the renovated 72,000-square-feet complex of buildings and open areas that had been part of the Arkansas State Hospital. The college was previously spread across locations in Little Rock and North Little Rock.
“The college has needed this space for some time and now it has come together,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “And what a terrific space this is. It’s great for education and it’s great for the college.”
Wilson noted the already increasing demand for health care – coupled with the prospect of proposed national health care reforms that could produce more patients from the ranks of the uninsured – will mean a need for more health care professionals in the future.
The college reached a record enrollment of 707 students for the 2009-2010 academic year including those who are registered in CHRP graduate-level programs through the UAMS Graduate School. College of Health Related Professions Dean, Ronald Winters, Ph.D., said the college could not have accommodated that number without the added space from the new facility.
University of Arkansas System President B. Alan Sugg, Ph.D., also lauded the college’s patience. He thanked Arkansas voters who supported a 2006 bond issue that in part funded the $5 million renovation of the seven former state hospital buildings.
“It’s unbelievable to see UAMS today and see how it’s grown; how it’s served Arkansas; and how it’s made us a better state,” Sugg said.
The college encompasses professions from dental hygiene to surgical technology, from genetic counseling to diagnostic medical sonography.
Winters told the audience that the buildings, completed in 1963, were strong and durable. Instead of a skeleton of steel beams used in most modern construction, the facility features concrete walls reinforced with steel rods.
With the addition of some new interior walls and removal of others, as well as upgrades to bathrooms and other facilities, the buildings became office space, work areas, small classrooms, teaching labs and conference rooms.
“When you see the insides of the buildings, you’ll see that we’ve done remarkable things with this space and it’s going to serve us very well,” Winters said.
The facility also provided space for new resources, such as an ambulance simulator for the Emergency Medical Sciences program. The facility allowed the Respiratory Care program to move to the UAMS campus after being located at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System facility in North Little Rock. It also allowed the Genetic Counseling program to move from a small renovated house on Cedar Street near the UAMS campus.
“More than 40 students shared one radiography laboratory in our previous location and now we have two radiography labs, which enables the students to have more hands-on experience,” said Rebecca Ludwig, Ph.D., director of the radiologist assistant program and chairman of the Department of Imaging and Radiation Sciences. “Similarly, we had no dedicated sonographic laboratory previously, and now we have two sonographic laboratories.”
One of the buildings has been converted to a Student Study Center, which hosted the open house event. The center includes a large area with tables and chairs along with smaller study rooms for individuals and small groups.
The former State Hospital administration building provides administrative space for the college. The building also houses offices for the Graduate School, the UAMS Office of Diversity Affairs, Student Financial Services, Academic Affairs and Financial Aid. This puts those offices in convenient proximity to other campus education buildings.
A plaza area and two courtyards provide outdoor spaces where students and faculty can congregate or find a quiet place to eat lunch or study. The entire facility has wireless Internet access.