NOV. 28, 2005 | The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) experienced a year of growth in nearly every category – from patient admissions to student enrollment and from research grants to facilities – the chancellor reported in his annual State of the Campus Address.
The growth has the campus and institution bursting at the seams while it is in the midst of the most significant expansion effort in its history.
“This has been a really terrific year at UAMS,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., who then summed up an equation for this success. “Our employees are our talent. Our talent makes our programs grow. Our programs make our facilities grow.
“I look forward to another successful year in 2006.”
The annual campus report was hosted in the Fred W. Smith Conference Center at the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute. For the first time, the event was also Web cast live to employees at UAMS locations around the state.
In the Nov. 17 address, Wilson detailed how UAMS has been successful at treating more patients, educating more students, conducting more research and reaching out to improve the health of more Arkansas residents. He covered highlights in each of the five UAMS colleges, the graduate school, the UAMS Medical Center, the seven Area Health Education Centers and the five UAMS Centers of Excellence (Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging).
He then discussed the $255 million campus expansion initiative underway, that will enable UAMS to continue that growth in a future where an aging population is expecting to increase the demand for health care. Construction of a major hospital addition and the Psychiatric Research Institute will begin in 2006 as work continues on a new residence hall and an addition to the Jones Eye Institute. Wilson noted that planning is underway for future expansions to the ACRC and Institute on Aging, as well as another education building.
A driver in the increased enrollment and degree programs is the need for more health care professionals. Wilson underscored this by pointing to the baby boomer generation, those born from 1946 to1964, representing 79 million Americans now approaching retirement age. Studies have shown that those 65 or older are more prone to chronic health problems.
Arkansas is projected to have the fifth highest percentage of elderly by 2025. That means meaning thousands of new doctors, nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals will be needed to meet the state’s health care needs, he said.
Each of the five UAMS colleges and the graduate school increased their enrollment in the past five years, Wilson said. By 2010, enrollment is expected to be increased again for total growth of almost 1,000 students.
Measuring success in research, Wilson pointed to continued increases in grants from the National Institutes of Health and programs sponsored by external sources. External grants and contracts were $113 million in 2005 while NIH grants totaled more than $53 million.
Dividends of this research investment can be seen in the 15 companies grown out of the UAMS biomedical business incubator. These companies have 276 employees and an annual payroll approaching $14 million in 2005.
Patient discharges and outpatient visits continued to increase, demonstrating continued success in UAMS’ patient care mission. Discharges in 2005 were expected to top 16,685 by the end of 2005, compared to 14,790 in 2001.
“Our patient count is growing very rapidly,” Wilson said. “A week ago Monday, we had 90 percent occupancy of our beds with 17 patients waiting for admission in the emergency department.
“We need more beds because we expect the demand to be greater in the future.”
Visits to UAMS outpatient clinics are expected to surpass 371,000 for 2005, up from 259,655 in 2001. Wilson noted that outpatient visits were growing at a faster rate than the state’s population.
UAMS outreach programs continue to grow, reaching all of Arkansas’ 75 counties. “We are statewide,” Wilson said. “There is a UAMS employee receiving a check in 70 counties.”
In 2005, 83 percent of the family medicine medical residents stayed in Arkansas to practice medicine. Of those, 60 percent are practicing in a city with a population less than 15,000.