April 17, 2017 | The threat of rain kept few away from the home of Maysel and Stanley Teeter, M.D., who hosted the inaugural meeting of Friends of UAMS – Russellville on April 11.
Stanley Teeter, a 1960 UAMS graduate, has served as the team physician for Arkansas Tech University athletic teams and unpaid consultant to the university infirmary for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the university’s Hall of Distinction in 1974.
The relative seclusion of the Teeters’ home, nestled within a deep, forested area of Russellville off main roads and ringed with large azalea bushes, required a bit of improvisation: golf carts. Throughout the evening, business and community leaders steadily arrived – some making the long walk from the street, others ferried along by a trio of golf carts provided for the event.
Sunlight peeked through a mostly overcast sky and filtered through the trees on a brisk evening perfect for outdoor entertaining. However, most of the guests enjoyed the view from the Teeters’ living room, with expansive windows looking out on the forest below. Heavy hors d’oeuvres, quickly replenished, fueled spirited conversations that lasted long after the event concluded.
Attending were Arkansas Tech president Robin Bowen, Ed.D.; president emeritus Robert C. Brown, Ph.D.; and Jim Davidson, CEO of Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center.
Stanley Teeter welcomed guests and asked for a show of hands: those who graduated from UAMS, those who had been patients, and those whose children or relatives had graduated from or been patients at UAMS. Each time, the majority of hands went up.
“That’s impressive,” Teeter said.
“UAMS is not just at Little Rock,” he continued. “The campuses are far-flung, and its services, as many of you know, are tremendous and unexcelled.”
He then introduced Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., to the group.
Rahn recognized Bowen and Brown for their leadership at Arkansas Tech, and Davidson for his leadership at Saint Mary’s. He also recognized Lance Burchett, vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement; and Don Heard, Ed.D., director of UAMS West, for their attendance and support.
“I hope you share the belief that we have, that health is one of the pillars of the future,” Rahn said. “Without a healthy population, it’s hard to envision a good future for the state.”
UAMS is one of the anchors of any statewide approach to health, Rahn said.
That approach begins with education. Last year, UAMS had 985 graduates, and early estimates have this year’s class at more than 1,000, Rahn said. “The vast majority of those graduates go out and practice in a professional arena in Arkansas and they dedicate their career to some area of health or health care,” he said. “So what we do has a big impact and a long coattail.”
Equally important in its impact is the health system, Rahn said.
UAMS sees about 1,500 outpatient visits each day at its main campus, and its regional campuses see another collective 500, Rahn said. Its physicians are on faculty at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and UAMS makes up “the bulk of the medical staff” at the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in central Arkansas, he added.
Collectively, between these sites UAMS providers see about 1 million patient visits each year.
Last year, UAMS received 2,800 requests to accept patient transfers from other hospitals. Those requests are especially important for rural hospitals to know that UAMS can help with difficult cases, Rahn said.
Being an anchor comes at significant financial cost, Rahn said.
The educational side of UAMS is more resource-intensive than most four-year colleges because of its smaller class sizes and heavy involvement with clinical staff, Rahn said. UAMS must also rely on patient care revenue for more than 75 percent of its $1.5 billion budget.
“The state appropriation is exactly the same as it was when I started as the chancellor in 2009,” Rahn said, which is $107 million. Of that amount, $65 million comes through the Medicaid expansion of Arkansas Works. That leaves UAMS little to allocate for education, he said.
“It is a very, very hard thing to explain this to our elected officials,” Rahn said.
“They see our salaries, they see the buildings, they see the size of the overall budget, they see that we’re the largest public employer in the state, and they think there’s no problem that can’t be solved with that amount of resources,” Rahn said. “It’s very difficult. Ten years of flat funding is a problem. It’s among the lowest in the United States for academic medical centers.”
That’s where advocacy, through events like Friends of UAMS, makes a difference, Rahn said.
“The people at UAMS really are committed to the work that they do and to the purpose of that work,” Rahn said. “It’s a very intentional institution, and it’s a real treasure for Arkansas.”
Burchett thanked guests for their support, and their friendship with and advocacy for UAMS.
The event marked the 12th chapter for Friends of UAMS. Other Friends of UAMS chapters are established in Texarkana, Jonesboro, Monticello, Batesville, Pine Bluff, Helena-West Helena, Hot Springs, Fort Smith, Magnolia, Mountain Home and northwest Arkansas.
UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a northwest Arkansas regional campus; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,021 students, 789 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS regional centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.