/////Delta Health Care Gets Lift With UAMS AHEC
Delta Health Care Gets Lift With UAMS AHEC 2018-01-05T09:16:52+00:00

MAY 10, 2006 | Prospects for improving the public health status of Arkansas’ Delta just went up thanks to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and its new Delta Area Health Education Center (AHEC) in Helena-West Helena.

“What you have done for your fellow man will be remembered long after the building is gone,” U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln said of those who made the 31,000-square-foot facility possible.

Lincoln and U.S. Rep. Marion Berry of Gillett helped the Helena Health Foundation, local civic and government leaders and UAMS celebrate the April 19 grand opening of the Delta AHEC, which is more than five times the size of its previous home. 

“It is a new day in the Delta and we won’t go back to the old days,” Berry told the gathering.
Located in the new $4 million Dr. P. Vasudevan Wellness Center, the UAMS Delta AHEC will be open to the public at little or no cost. Space for a library, auditorium and classrooms also enables Delta AHEC to expand education programs for the public and health care professionals.

“This new facility will help the Delta AHEC increase access to the many worthy consumer health programs it already provides for residents in the seven counties it serves,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “This AHEC is a critical part of UAMS Regional Programs, which is working hard to improve the health and quality of life for  all Arkansans.”

The seven counties served by the new AHEC are among the poorest in the nation and have critically high rates of mortality, a prevalence of serious untreated chronic health conditions, and job related injuries are common. The counties rank in the state’s 10 highest for deaths from lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and heart disease, as well as for births to adolescents, and low birth weight. Six of the seven targeted counties are federally designated as critical shortage areas for health care professionals.

“The new Delta AHEC building will enable us to better fulfill our mission of training health care professionals and offering health education and health promotion to Delta residents,” said Becky Hall, Ed.D., Delta AHEC director.
Named in honor of local physician P. Vasudevan, M.D., the building was funded by the Helena Health Foundation, which also established a $1 million endowment to support Delta AHEC wellness programs. The loan was financed by the local banks and a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Helena Health Foundation offices are housed in the AHEC facility.

“With branch offices in West Memphis and Lake Village, Delta AHEC can effectively serve all citizens in St. Francis, Lee, Phillips, Chicot, Desha, Monroe and Crittenden counties,” said Charles O. Cranford, D.D.S., M.P.A., executive director of the UAMS AHEC program and vice chancellor for regional programs.

The Delta AHEC’s other consumer education programs include smoking prevention and cessation, diabetes education/management, nutrition, asthma, hypertension, cancer, sickle cell, substance abuse and teen pregnancy. Besides a full range of exercise equipment, including an indoor walking track, the Delta AHEC has three classrooms and an auditorium to deliver  a variety of public health topics, including CPR and farm safety, as well as education courses for students pursuing degrees in bachelor’s and master’s of nursing. Having the Vasudevan Wellness Center will allow the Delta AHEC to introduce an Employee Assistance Program that would invite participation and support from the area’s employers.

The Delta AHEC became the state’s seventh AHEC in 2001, when the Legislature approved its creation using money from Arkansas’ portion of the multi-state settlement with the tobacco industry. Delta AHEC also hopes the new facility will become a regional model to help leverage much needed charitable support from foundations and individuals interested in the future of the Delta.