May 17, 2016 | The inaugural Friends of UAMS – Hot Springs kicked off May 10 with a gathering of more than 100 business and community leaders from across south central Arkansas at the Hot Springs lakeside home of Barbara and Don Munro.
The Munros co-hosted the event with Dorothy Morris of Hot Springs. Don Munro, a UAMS Foundation Fund Board member, and Morris are co-founders of the Hot Springs Giving Circle, a group that offers support through grants for local projects in Garland County. Since its inception in 2007, the Giving Circle has awarded more than a half-million dollars in grant funding.
Attending were State Rep. John Vines; Steve Arrison, CEO of Hot Springs Convention and Visitor’s Bureau; and Garland County Judge Rick Davis.
The Oaklawn Center on Aging was well-represented with Dr. Bob Kleinhenz, director and member of the Oaklawn Foundation Board; Jack Porter and Darrell Smith, co-chairs of the Oaklawn Center on Aging Advisory Committee; and staff members Kathy Packard, Valerie Carr and Janet Whitten.
The Oaklawn Senior Health Care Center was established in 2009 by the Arkansas Aging Initiative, a program of the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at UAMS. The center serves Garland County with multiple programs to keep older adults engaged.
Others Oaklawn Foundation Board members attending were Carla Mouton, Dr. John Simpson, Larry Stephens and Kermit Tucker.
UAMS Foundation Fund Board member Jim Darr was also in attendance.
Munro welcomed guests and thanked Dorothy Morris for co-hosting.
Munro then spoke about UAMS, the state’s only academic medical center in the state. “Obviously it touches all of us in one way or another, at one time or another,” he said before introducing UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D.
Rahn recognized the Oaklawn Foundation for its continued support of UAMS. He thanked those in attendance and asked for their support and advocacy for UAMS.
“We are the most important asset for the future of the state of Arkansas,” he said.
“Fifty-eight percent of the currently practicing physicians in Arkansas went to UAMS,” Rahn said. “Seventy-two percent of the currently licensed pharmacists in Arkansas went to UAMS. Forty-eight percent of rural, primary care physicians had a residency at UAMS.”
UAMS has expertise that is not routinely available across the state, Rahn said.
“For the health care industry to be able to do its job here in Hot Springs, you’ve got to know that there’s a safety valve available in Little Rock at UAMS,” he said.
Rahn thanked the Legislature for approving Arkansas Works, the extension of the state’s Medicaid expansion, saying it was crucial to the future of UAMS. “In states that haven’t expanded Medicaid, hospital closures are rampant,” he said.
Citing UAMS’ total budget, Rahn called the amount the hospital receives from state appropriations “the lowest in the nation,” and said that the bulk of state appropriations for UAMS are put towards state matching funds for Medicaid programs.
“That leaves only $21 million for all of academics,” Rahn said. “And we’re trying to function as a world-class public academic institution with tuition that’s one-third the tuition at private institutions. It’s unworkable. It’s unworkable.”
Rahn said he had recently submitted a budget for UAMS with a $35 million decline in net assets.
People from across the state seek out UAMS for patient care, but the hospital is often full, said Rahn. “I get a report every morning, and there were no beds available today,” he said. “Not because of inability to pay, but because the resources needed are unavailable where they are.”
“People take UAMS for granted,” Rahn said. “We’re not often seen as the statewide resource that we are. The lights aren’t going out, the wheels aren’t coming off, but we need a long-range, sustainable plan for the future. You are the people with relationships. Volunteer. Make yourselves available. I don’t think there’s anything more important you can do,” he said.
Lance Burchett, UAMS vice chancellor for institutional advancement, wrapped up the evening and asked those in attendance for their ambassadorship, support and advocacy for UAMS.
Hot Springs is the seventh Friends of UAMS chapter. Other chapters are in Texarkana, Jonesboro, Monticello, Batesville, Pine Bluff and Helena-West Helena. More chapters are planned, including ones in Fayetteville, Magnolia and Fort Smith.
For more photos from the event, visit the UAMS Flickr page.
UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; northwest Arkansas regional campus; statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Myeloma Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,834 students, 822 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.