Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is an inherited disorder that has long been a financial and physical burden on Arkansas’s residents. Because little has been done to evaluate the effects of this disease, it continues to be detrimental to the population, especially those living in underserved areas. From a clinical standpoint, SCD can cause many complications, from painful episodes often requiring hospitalization to bone infections, stroke, and kidney disease. Not surprisingly, such complications are physically difficult for the individual and financially burdensome for the individual and the state, which may cover the medical costs of SCD patients on Medicaid or Medicare. Another compounding factor in the overall management of SCD is that many of the patients live rurally and don’t have primary care providers managing their disease. Fortunately, recent legislation has created an avenue to facilitate better SCD care and management.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has an opportunity to lead and coordinate the care of adults with sickle cell disease in Arkansas. The legislature has addressed the need by generously providing funds for UAMS to develop and nurture a program that would benefit this underserved, minority population. As UAMS improves and standardizes the treatment of patients with sickle cell disease through the Adult Sickle Cell Clinical Program (ASCCP), not only will patients experience relief of suffering, but the entire state will also experience an improved well-being.