May 18, 2017 | A beautiful spring evening was the setting May 8 as former Gov. Mike and Ginger Beebe and neighbors Ann and Reynie Rutledge co-hosted more than 100 business and community leaders at the Beebes’ home for the inaugural Friends of UAMS – Searcy event.
Beebe, governor from 2007-2015, serves as of counsel for Roberts Law Firm P.A., of Little Rock. He also served 20 years as a state senator and four years as attorney general. He is a member of the Tyson Foods Board of Directors, the Home BancShares Board of Directors and the UAMS Foundation Fund Board. Ginger Beebe is a member of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Foundation Fund Board.
Reynie Rutledge is the chairman, president and CEO of First Security Bancorp, and a member of the Arkansas Research Alliance Board of Trustees. He is a former member of the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees and the UAMS Foundation Fund Board.
Among those attending the evening at the Beebe home were state Sen. Jonathan Dismang, president pro tempore; state Rep. Les Eaves; Ray Montgomery, president and CEO of Unity Health – White County Medical Center; and Jim Carr, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president of Harding University.
Speaking from the top step of his back porch, Beebe welcomed guests and thanked UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., and wife, Lana, for their service to UAMS and the state. Chancellor Rahn is retiring July 31.
“Dan has been such a wonderful asset to UAMS and the people of Arkansas,” Beebe said. “Lana is a gracious and wonderful lady. They’ve become adopted Arkansans, and they will always be adopted Arkansans.”
Beebe spoke about friends in other countries who sought care at UAMS, one of whom was treated at the UAMS Myeloma Institute.
“Of all the places in the world for multiple myeloma – and he could find a lot of countries – he knew to come to Little Rock, Arkansas for UAMS,” he said. “They are number one in the world in that one specialty.”
“But it’s not just multiple myeloma,” Beebe continued. “It’s so many different disciplines that they are world-class in, and they do it with extremely limited resources. We’re proud of them.”
Reynie Rutledge recognized Montgomery and spoke of his own admiration for UAMS.
“Being from Smackover, and a country boy, I always thought UAMS had top doctors and basically handled those who couldn’t pay for their medical care,” Rutledge said. “But I’m telling you, it is amazing – the people who are trying to get to UAMS for their health care.”
Rutledge said that many patients in White County are taken to UAMS for treatment each year.
“The benefit that this hospital provides, really not only for the citizens of Arkansas but for the hospitals in Arkansas, is unbelievable,” Rutledge said.
Beebe then introduced Rahn to the group and beckoned him to the back porch step.
Rahn thanked the Beebes and the Rutledges for co-hosting and thanked those in attendance. He recognized Dismang and Eaves and thanked them both for their support.
Rahn mentioned his work with Montgomery to “increase the pipeline of new physicians” in White County. “The most successful way to increase your physician manpower is to grow your own, and I compliment Ray for his investment in that,” Rahn said.
Rahn told a story about his first days as chancellor, and being introduced to Beebe by B. Alan Sugg, Ph.D., then the University of Arkansas System president. He credited Beebe with giving him good advice early on, and for being a staunch supporter of UAMS and its mission.
“Mike and Ginger have done innumerable things to assist us with friend-raising and fundraising,” Rahn said. “Mike never said ‘no’ to anything I asked that he was able to do.”
Rahn said that events like these exist to create statewide awareness and advocacy for UAMS.
“UAMS is kind of in never-never land,” Rahn said, of the institution’s multi-pronged mission. “It’s part higher education – we’re a health sciences university; others look at us as if we’re a hospital, because of the history of our medical center.”
UAMS is often seen as a Little Rock asset because the bulk of its buildings and employees are there, which makes statewide engagement difficult, Rahn said. “But I firmly believe that UAMS is one of the most important entities for the future of the state of Arkansas.”
Arkansas has significant challenges when it comes to population health, and UAMS has risen to meet that challenge, Rahn said. He rattled off the numbers: 58 percent of practicing physicians in Arkansas and 72 percent of licensed pharmacists in Arkansas are UAMS graduates, and half of the primary care physicians in the state did a residency program at UAMS.
“Think of what it would be if those people were subtracted from the whole equation, from the whole health care infrastructure,” Rahn said.
Rahn cited the 2,800 patient transfers that UAMS received last year from other hospitals for advanced care, saying that only three-quarters were able to be accepted, “not because of capability, but capacity.”
“That’s really important to the infrastructure of the health system in the state – the knowledge that there’s a safety valve there when the needs of the patient exceed what’s available in the local community,” Rahn said.
UAMS needs more state support, particularly for its budget, Rahn said. UAMS derives only 3 percent of its budget from tuition, and 6 percent from state appropriations. Since state appropriations have remained flat over several years, and the purchasing power of those appropriations has declined, UAMS is largely dependent on patient care revenue to support the entire institution, Rahn said.
“We need a groundswell of advocacy for UAMS, statewide,” Rahn said.
Rahn stressed UAMS’ importance to the future of the health care of the state.
“Whether you look at it through the lens of economic development or you look at it through the lens of basic fairness and equity: should everyone have an equal opportunity for a healthy life?” Rahn said. “If the answer to that question is ‘yes’, then we should be pursuing policies that support that notion – and UAMS is fundamental to that.”
Lance Burchett, UAMS vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement, thanked guests for their support and their friendship with and advocacy for UAMS.
The event marked the 13th chapter for Friends of UAMS. Other Friends of UAMS chapters are in Texarkana, Jonesboro, Monticello, Batesville, Pine Bluff, Helena-West Helena, Hot Springs, Fort Smith, Magnolia, Mountain Home, Russellville and northwest Arkansas.
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; 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 2,870 students, 799 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS and 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.