March 29, 2018 | Three longtime UAMS physicians were honored by Arkansas Business as Healthcare Heroes at a luncheon March 28.
The annual awards program was begun in 2015 to recognize individuals, companies and organizations making a significant impact on the quality of health care in Arkansas.
Kent Westbrook, M.D., a distinguished professor in the Department of Surgery in the UAMS College of Medicine and co-founder of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Westbrook received his medical degree from UAMS in 1965 and served a Surgical Oncology Fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He returned to UAMS determined to establish a cancer program with friend and fellow cancer surgeon James Suen, M.D., so Arkansans would not have to leave the state for treatment.
The first four floors of the Cancer Institute opened in 1989 with half the space dedicated to research and half to patient care. An additional seven floors were added in 1996 and a 12-story expansion opened in 2010.
Westbrook has also served as interim chair of the Department of Surgery from 1999 to 2002 and as interim vice chancellor for the Division of Institutional Advancement in 2011.
Ron Robertson, M.D., medical director of trauma and chief of the Division of Trauma, Critical Care and Acute Surgery, was named Physician of the Year.
Robertson, a UAMS graduate, was a driving force behind creation of the Arkansas Trauma System in 2010, which is credited with saving hundreds of lives by ensuring patients get quickly to the medical facility that can best treat their injuries. He has trained more than 4,000 physicians in advanced trauma life support.
Wendel, who received his medical degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia School of Medicine, has been caring for pregnant women at UAMS for 25 years. He holds an endowed chair in his name in maternal-fetal medicine and helps train other physicians in treating women with high-risk pregnancies.
Other finalists from UAMS were Tonya Johnson, a dietitian, for Workplace Wellness Hero and UAMS Medical Center for Large Hospital of the Year.