Baptist Health 100 Years of All Our Best

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Baptist Health 100 Years of All Our Best



Baptist Health 100 Years of All Our Best

Nathania Sawyer


Baptist Health has been committed to a faith-based mission serving all people who need care regardless of their ability to pay—

The history of Baptist Health is the story of Baptist Health physicians,

nurses, staff, and board working together for 100 years to provide care for people and recognizing that throughout Arkansas and beyond. Baptist State Hospital opened its doors in November 1920 and was legally we are more than a incorporated on February 16, 1921. In those early days, what is now Baptist Health business, we are a operated one hospital in Little Rock and a nursing school. Over the last century, healing ministry. Baptist Health has become a comprehensive health care system made up of 11 hospitals, urgent care centers, a senior living community, more than 100 primary and specialty care clinics, a college for nursing and allied health professions, and a graduate medical residency program. Throughout its history, there have been common themes that have shaped Baptist Health’s development. First and foremost, Baptist Health has been committed to a faith-based mission serving all people who need care regardless of their ability to pay—and recognizing that we are more than a business, we are a healing ministry. For 100 years, Baptist Health has dealt with the Baptist State Hospital Commission, 1921 challenges of serving people with a wide range of different needs in communities throughout the state. C. E. Witt, Little Rock (President) While there have been changes in patient expectations, G. W. Allport, Reap L. E. Barton, Little Rock technology, and payment systems, Baptist Health’s R. Carnahan, Pine Bluff willingness to embrace change has led to introducing W. R. Donham, Little Rock innovative clinical technologies that have improved G. W. Duncan, Hope clinical outcomes for patients. G. D. Faulkner, North Little Rock Our history has demonstrated an understanding of the C. A. Riley, Little Rock importance of collaboration and being part of the broader A. M. Williams, Hope community. In the early 1900s, we celebrated individualism and independence. Leaders at Baptist Health grew to understand the importance of people and organizations working together to meet the needs of people they serve. The early years of work with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and volunteer groups led to partnerships with local health care providers as well as regional and national organizations. Today, that commitment to developing collaborative relationships based on trust and service is reflected in our physician partnerships, our work with payers, and our numerous clinical partnerships throughout the state. 2

From the beginning, Baptist Health’s mission included a commitment to clinical education. From our college of nursing and allied health to our physician residency training program, our investment in health care professionals continues to support Baptist Health’s ministry while providing caregivers for the entire state of Arkansas. While health care will continue to evolve and change, Baptist Health’s commitment to its Christian ministry serving people remains constant. This history is a tribute to the efforts of the people who had the commitment and vision to create Baptist Health and to people today who continue to ensure Baptist Health’s ability to serve people for generations to come.

Board of Trustees, 2021 Judy Henry (Chair) Lamarr Bailey Steven Booth Mike Carroll Ed Choate Ronnie Dedman Herren Hickingbotham Teresa Howell Dr. Glen Jones Jim Jones Louis Lee Kent Lockwood John McMorran

Chair of the Board of Trustees

President and Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Glenn Millner Suzanne Peyton Dr. Ken Shaddox Michael Shelley

Judy Henry

Troy Wells

Henry Torres Everett Tucker, M.D. (Board Advisor)


Baptist Health staff braved the snow and record low temperatures to raise the 100th anniversary flags at each hospital.

Employees celebrated the anniversary at hospital locations around the state with local parties and received a commemorative box of gifts.


On March 11, 2020, Governor Asa


Hutchinson announced the first

In early March 2020,

the Baptist Health 100th Anniversary Planning Committee was moving ahead with plans for a year-long celebration that would begin in February 2021. Plans included a press conference, a media campaign, parties, and events across the state. And this book was to be released in December 2020. But on March 11, 2020, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the first presumptive case of COVID-19 in Arkansas, and everything changed quickly. The uncertainties of the pandemic meant having to rethink, rearrange, and reschedule plans multiple times. Baptist Health President and CEO Troy Wells wrote in one of his blog posts:

presumptive case of COVID-19 in Arkansas, and everything changed quickly. The uncertainties of the pandemic meant having to rethink, rearrange, and

[The early hospital leaders] had to adapt to the challenges and circumstances that arose, just as we are adjusting to “the new normal” in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new normal means that we won’t be celebrating our anniversary exactly the way we thought we would a year ago. Some things will go forward as planned. Some things will be adapted to fit the current circumstances. Some things will be postponed until it is safe for groups to gather in public and when our staff can take the time to celebrate properly.

reschedule plans multiple times.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. presented a proclamation celebrating the 100th anniversary.


But I’m reminded that what we are celebrating isn’t a date—it’s a century of providing faith-based care to the communities we serve. Because the story of Baptist Health is the story of our patients. It’s the story of how we found ways to provide charity care to patients with no insurance and limited financial resources. It’s the story of how we broke new ground in patient care with many medical firsts, including the state’s first heart transplant and first total artificial heart transplant. It’s the story of how we have taken health care beyond the acute-care hospital walls and built more than 250 points of access that cover all aspects of health care. Together, we have so much to celebrate, and I can’t wait until we can celebrate it together. Baptist Health College staff and students donned historical nurses’ uniforms for the 100th anniversary press conference.

Governor Asa Hutchinson stands in front of the new Baptist Health Mobile Health Unit, a 100th anniversary gift from the Baptist Health Foundation.


Throughout 2021, the amended anniversary celebration proceeded as time and safety allowed. The photos in this Introduction capture just a few of the highlights.

The story of Baptist Health is woven

Commitment to Our Roots

together from many different threads.… But at its heart, it is

Baptist Health exists to provide quality patient-centered services, promote and protect the voluntary not-for-profit health care system, provide quality health education, and respond to the changing health needs of those we serve with Christian compassion and personal concern.

the story of staying the course while navigating through

Baptist Health Mission Statement

100 years of change Baptist Health is more than a business—it is a healing ministry. Our healing ministry is based on the revelation of God through creation, the Bible, and Jesus Christ. At Baptist Health, care of the whole person—body, mind, and spirit—is an expression of Christian faith. We are instruments of God’s restorative power and are responsible for giving compassionate care.

by staying true to the principles that guided the system’s founders.

Baptist Health Belief Statement

Today, Baptist Health is Arkansas’s most comprehensive health care organization with hundreds of points of access, including 11 hospitals, urgent care centers, a senior living community, and more than 100 primary and specialty care clinics in Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. The system also maintains a college for nursing and allied health professionals and a graduate medical education program. The story of Baptist Health is woven together from many different threads. It’s the story of physical growth—moving from a single hospital in a temporary building to a multifaceted system that addresses total health. It’s the story of medical advancement—punctuated with many noteworthy people and medical firsts achieved in the system. It’s also the story of building relationships and establishing trust within communities. But at its heart, it is the story of staying the course while navigating through 100 years of change by staying true to the principles that guided the system’s founders. Baptist Health’s mission and belief statements reflect the values that have sustained the system through tough times as well as expansive growth. And it all started with an old, white frame building in downtown Little Rock.

The original home of Baptist State Hospital


The hospital’s first

Opening the First Hospital

annual report stated

The Arkansas Baptist State Convention had begun exploring the idea of establishing a denominational hospital for the state in 1909, but made no concrete progress until the 1919 annual convention. The Convention members passed a resolution to begin “…the work of launching and putting into operation a great modern, scientific hospital at Little Rock, to cost not less than $500,000.00 and to provide for 300 hospital beds…” The hospital commission appointed by the Convention moved quickly to launch a fundraising campaign and secured a location in September 1920 that was bounded by 12th, 13th, Marshall, and Wolfe streets in downtown Little Rock. The site included the former Little Rock Sanitarium and its annex, plus three houses. Because the sanitarium purchase included its equipment, the hospital was able to open in November 1920 with 75 patient beds. On February 16, 1921, the Pulaski County Circuit Court approved the hospital’s articles of incorporation, making the Baptist State Hospital a legal entity. The hospital’s first annual Sample page from the hospital’s monthly records report stated that the average daily patient count was 57, with prices set at $2 per day for a ward bed and $4.30 per day for private room beds. The doctors treated 623 medical and 692 surgical cases during the first year.

that the average daily patient count was 57, with prices set at $2 per day for a ward bed and $4.30 per day for private room beds. The doctors treated 623 medical and 692 surgical cases during the first year.

Building the New Hospital Building the permanent hospital took much longer than anticipated. The Southern Baptist Convention had launched a campaign in 1919 to raise $75 million nationwide over a five-year period. The Arkansas convention earmarked a portion of its anticipated allocation from the campaign for the hospital and planned to raise an additional $300,000 through subscriptions. Work on the new hospital began with the official groundbreaking ceremony on November 7, 1921. The Daily Arkansas Gazette reported, “The building will be in the shape of the letter E and will be four stories high…It is expected the first wing will be completed by next fall. The other two wings will be erected as soon as possible.” 8

“Next fall” proved to be an optimistic estimate. The national $75 million campaign fell short of its goal and generated only $44,288 for the Arkansas hospital instead of the anticipated $200,000. The statewide subscription campaign also struggled, and construction of the new building came to a standstill. The hospital commission held another subscription campaign in 1924 and borrowed $245,000 to complete the first phase. Despite these setbacks, the new building opened on January 1, 1925.

Baptist State Hospital, ca. 1925

Early Struggles Finding funding to build the permanent building wasn’t the only area in which the hospital struggled during its first decade. From 1921 through 1928, the hospital had seven different superintendents. When the new building opened in 1925, it operated Timeline November 1920: Baptist State Hospital began operations in the former Little Rock Sanitarium building in downtown Little Rock. February 16, 1921: Baptist State Hospital became a legal entity through incorporation papers filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court. January 1, 1925: The hospital moved from its temporary building to its newly built 5story brick building. 1944: The hospital established an official pastoral care program and hired Rev. J. F. Queen as the first full-time hospital pastor. 1948: The hospital name changed to Arkansas Baptist Hospital to cut down on confusion with the State Hospital for Nervous Disorders. 1952: The Medical Arts Building opened. G. L. Alexander, manager of the rental department of Worthen Bank, told the Board that the new building “is the first of its kind in Little Rock, and will, therefore, in a sense be a ‘pioneer’ in its field.” 1965: The Little Rock hospital’s name changed from Arkansas Baptist Hospital to Arkansas Baptist Medical Center to reflect its expanded range of services. 1966: The Arkansas Baptist State Convention voted to relinquish control of the hospital system and transferred ownership to an independent Board of Trustees. 1974: The new Baptist Medical Center opened in west Little Rock and became the system’s flagship hospital. 1981: The corporation name changed to Baptist Medical System. 1984: Multi-Management Services Inc. launched to develop and manage the system’s for-profit entities. 1989: Baptist Medical System launched the Healing Force initiative. 1995: Baptist Medical System became Baptist Health to reflect the system’s Total Health commitment to caregiving. 1997: The Board incorporated Arkansas Health Group, a non-profit medical practice company, that manages physician clinics across the state.


Nurses pose on a Rock Island Railroad engine after conducting an inoculation clinic for railroad employees, ca. 1929

The hospital’s façade changed dramatically during the 1950s.


under a clinic system composed of a group of specialists. The clinic system basically excluded any other physicians from using the hospital, which did not work well. In 1927, the hospital adopted an open-staff policy. Demands for charity cases outpaced the hospital’s resources, which at the time consisted of 5 percent of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention’s total budget for charity. An ad in the Arkansas Baptist publication addressed the hospital’s struggles in a section titled “The Hen that Squats the Lowest.” It compared the uphill struggle of the hospital to that of other Baptist hospitals in the South. The author ended with this story: “As a boy on the farm, we noticed when the old hens gathered and began to fly up to the roost, the old hen that squatted the lowest went the highest on the roost. So take courage—we are destined to go high.”

The hospital

Depression, War, and Recovery Years The Great Depression of the 1930s brought more challenges, as demand for charity care increased and the number of people who could pay for care decreased. The hospital relied on contracts with railroads and with the government to care for people enrolled in one of the New Deal recovery programs, the Civilian Conservation Corp. The hospital benefitted from the sudden population explosion during World War II when thousands of people came to central Arkansas to train at Camp Joseph T. Robinson (formerly Camp Pike) in North Little Rock. The influx of new people made the camp Arkansas’s second largest city with an average daily population of approximately 50,000. Additional people moved to the area to work at the Arkansas Ordnance Plant near Jacksonville (producing fuses and detonators) and the Maumelle Ordnance Works (producing picric acid) at Marche.

benefitted from the sudden population explosion during World War II when thousands of people came to central Arkansas to train at Camp Joseph T. Robinson.

Leadership During the hospital’s first decade of operations, the leadership changed seven times: J. S. Rogers (1921) C. E. Witt, interim (1921) E. E. King (1922-1925), J. P. Runyan (19251927), H. B. Chrisp (1927), H. G. Harcrow (1927-1928), and Lee Gammill (1928-1941).

H. G. Harcrow

John Dudley

Lee Gammill

John Gilbreath

Gammill provided some much needed stability to the hospital and served until he was called to active duty in the Surgeon General’s office in 1941. The Board chose John Dudley, assistant superintendent of the South Carolina Baptist Hospital in Columbia, to succeed Gammill. Dudley had Arkansas ties and had served previously as the business manager of the Sparks Memorial Hospital at Fort Smith and director of the Crippled Children’s Division of the state’s Welfare Department. Dudley left the hospital in November 1946 to join Memorial Hospital in Houston, Texas. He was replaced by John Gilbreath, who had come to Baptist State Hospital in 1945 to be the hospital’s business manager. In April 1946, the Board promoted him to assistant superintendent, and five months later, he became the superintendent. Gilbreath led the system until he retired in 1984. The Board selected Russell Harrington Jr. to fill Gilbreath’s position as president and chief executive officer of the system. Harrington had joined the system in 1974 to be the assistant administrator of the new Baptist Medical Center in west Little Rock. Harrington retired in 2014 and was succeeded by the current president and CEO, Troy Wells. Wells served as chief operating officer at Newport Hospital & Clinic in Newport, Arkansas, before joining Baptist Health in 2006.

Russell Harrington

Troy Wells


The Hill-Burton Act had been providing federal grants and guaranteed loans for hospital construction and improvements since it was passed in 1946. The hospital’s

The hospital’s 1941 annual report showed a jump to 6,489 patients, up from 4,473 the previous year. During the two decades after the war, the hospital expanded its patient-bed capacity by adding a new wing and building a facility to house and train the nursing students. When the City of North Little Rock planned to build a hospital in the early 1960s, they entered into an agreement for Arkansas Baptist Hospital to operate the facility. To raise the funds needed, the residents of North Little Rock approved the first bond issue in the city’s history. Additional construction funds came from the federal government through the federal Hospital Survey and Construction Act (HillBurton Act).

Board had looked at that funding source during the expansion in the late 1940s, but the Arkansas Baptist State Convention members felt that accepting federal funds violated their long-held belief in separation of church and state.


Separation of Church and State The Hill-Burton Act had been providing federal grants and guaranteed loans for hospital construction and improvements since it was passed in 1946. The hospital’s Board had looked at that funding source during the expansion in the late 1940s, but the Arkansas Baptist State Convention members felt that accepting federal funds violated their long-held belief in separation of church and state. Convention minutes include the sticking point: “We therefore protest the policy of the Federal Government in forcing people to pay taxes to erect buildings for any religious denomination. We believe in the doctrine of ‘Separation of Church and State,’ and we believe that the policy of the government in taxing people to support and create religious institutions is a violation of that honored doctrine.” The issue came to a head in mid-1960s, when the hospital Board proposed building a new facility in west Little Rock. The downtown location had no room left for further expansion, and much of the city’s population had moved west into what is now mid-town Little Rock. The hospital’s Board requested that the Convention take action to release the hospital from the separation of church and state restriction. John Gilbreath told the Convention’s executive board, “This hospital is now controlled with governmental regulations exactly in the same manner as those institutions which have accepted federal grants. These controls include policing of civil rights to the extent of forbidding the administration to transfer patients, even at their request, regulations as to the square feet in patients’ rooms, the number of nursing hours per patient, authority to regulate the type of construction, and a close scrutiny by the government of the level of medical practice in existence within the institution. The denomination has lost its ability to maintain separation of control even though it has not accepted federal grants.” On August 3, 1966, the executive board of the Convention voted to recommend to the full membership that the Arkansas Baptist Medical Center be separated from

The new corporation members had a big job ahead of them— meeting the needs of the downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock hospitals while simultaneously building another major facility in the western part of Little Rock. This sign, located at the University Avenue site, advertised the soon-to-be-built hospital.

the Convention so that it might receive federal funds without violating the Convention’s principle of separation of church and state. This recommendation sparked hours of debate and multiple motions and substitute motions. In the end, the Convention approved ending its 40-year relationship with the hospital system with these words: “NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: That Baptist State Convention of Arkansas hereby does declare that Arkansas Baptist Medical Center henceforth is, and forever shall be, a body corporate independent of this Convention, solely under the control of its Board of Trustees and membership, fully discharged of responsibility to or control of this Convention.”

Moving West On March 7, 1967, a group of 50 people held the first meeting of the hospital’s new governing corporation. The group elected an 18-member Board of Trustees and adopted a charter and by-laws. The first officers of the new corporation were: A. James Linder, president; Rev. R. H. Dorris, first vice president; Kenneth Price, second vice president; and B. J. Daugherty, secretary. The new corporation members had a big job ahead of them—meeting the needs of the downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock hospitals while simultaneously building another major facility in the western part of Little Rock. The Board had secured a 52-acre tract of land on North University Avenue between Cantrell Road and Forest Heights Junior High School (bounded by University Avenue and Fillmore, Evergreen, and O streets). Everyone was gearing up for the construction to begin on the University Avenue site. Everyone, that is, except the Board of Trustees.


The I-430 interchange was still under construction and I-630 didn’t exist when the new Baptist Medical Center was completed.


Brick Lile, the Board’s chairman, felt that the site was too small and would become obsolete even before the ground was broken, and he quietly proceeded to look for alternative locations. On July 18, 1970, he announced that the site for the new hospital was moving from University Avenue to a 213-acre site bounded by Kanis Road, Barrow Road, the proposed Interstate 430 and the proposed East-West Expressway (which became Interstate 630). Construction began in March 1971 and took three years to complete. The hospital announced the dedication ceremony would occur on January 12, 1974. The ceremony predated the hospital’s actual opening day by almost two months due to construction delays. Organizers decided to proceed with the dedication ceremony because they had to coordinate with the availability of the guest of honor—Vice President Gerald Ford. The weather didn’t cooperate as the state saw extremely low temperatures that month. The Arkansas Democrat reported: “[Ford’s deputy press secretary John W. “Bill”] Roberts, who had hoped all along that the 1 p.m. dedication ceremony would be outside the hospital’s main entrance, seemed perturbed Friday morning with a report that Congressman Wilbur D. Mills of Kensett, who had invited Ford to

Arkansas, and would introduce him, called for an inside ceremony and was accommodated.” Georgia Seward, RN, remembered the bitterly cold weather and moving the ceremony inside. “We were down in the area that would become the cafeteria. It was an unfinished area at that time with just concrete floors. And they had put drapes up everywhere.” The crowd of people crammed into the basement cafeteria space and overflowed into the main lobby where a speaker system was quickly installed. Television station KATV televised the ceremony live. In addition to the vice president, dignitaries included Congressman Ray Thornton, Governor Dale Bumpers, Senator John

Vice President Gerald Ford (in striped suit) in receiving line

Growing the System The Baptist Health system now includes 11 hospitals throughout Arkansas, giving the system a total of 2,085 licensed beds in 2020. As the Baptist Health system developed and grew, hospital names changed periodically to reflect expanded scopes and corporate identity. This list shows when each hospital joined the system and when name changes occurred for each location: Downtown Little Rock 1920 Baptist State Hospital 1948 Arkansas Baptist Hospital 1965 Arkansas Baptist Medical Center 1969 Baptist Medical Center 1974 Central Baptist Hospital 1983 Arkansas Rehabilitation Institute North Little Rock 1962 Memorial Hospital 1989 Baptist Memorial Medical Center 1999 Baptist Health Baptist Memorial Medical Center 2000 Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock West Little Rock 1974 Baptist Medical Center 1999 Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock Rehabilitation Institute (west Little Rock) 1983 Arkansas Rehabilitation Institute (relocated from downtown Little Rock) 1989 Baptist Rehabilitation Institute of Arkansas 1999 Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute Arkadelphia (originally Clark County Memorial Hospital) 1980 Twin Rivers Medical Center 1989 Baptist Medical Center-Arkadelphia 1999 Baptist Health Medical Center-Arkadelphia

Workmen removing “Arkansas” from the hospital signage, 1969 Heber Springs (originally Cleburne Memorial Hospital) 1996 Baptist Medical Center-Heber Springs 1996 Baptist Health Medical Center-Heber Springs Stuttgart (originally Stuttgart Regional Medical Center) 2008 Baptist Health Medical Center-Stuttgart Extended Care Hospital 2008 Baptist Health Extended Care Hospital-Little Rock Malvern (originally Hot Spring County Medical Center) 2014 Baptist Health Medical Center-Hot Spring County Conway (new construction) 2016 Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway Fort Smith (originally Sparks Regional Medical Center) 2018 Baptist Health-Fort Smith Van Buren (originally Sparks Regional Medical Center) 2018 Baptist Health-Van Buren


During the 1980s, the Board and

McClellan, Congressman Wilbur Mills, Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt, representatives from the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, and representatives from the Board of Trustees.

administration evaluated the system

The Healing Force

In 1981, Clark County Memorial Hospital joined the Baptist Medical System as Twin Rivers Medical Center, marking the system’s first expansion outside of for moving ahead Pulaski County. The small hospital had been struggling financially and was on the brink of closing when the Clark County Quorum Court (which owned the in an expansive hospital) entered into an agreement to raise money for a new facility that Baptist direction. Medical System would operate. This partnership fit well with the Board’s vision to grow beyond Pulaski County and to expand services beyond the acute-care setting. During the 1980s, the Board and administration evaluated the system and created a plan for moving ahead in an expansive direction. In 1989, they launched a systemMemories: The Night Crew wide program that defined their vision. Issues with the west Little Rock hospital construction in “Today [April 27, 1989], Baptist Medical System the 1970s delayed the project by several months, which introduces a program that has the potential to become led to another problem. another milestone in our long history. Whether history Russ Harrington explained, “We had planned to mainwill record it as such is up to you and me, all the tain the hospital downtown and then move out here, so we were staffing for this hospital while we were still employees of this institution. Today, Baptist Medical down there. The months were going by and we hadn’t System takes the first step in becoming The Healing moved. And we pretty much depleted all the funds we had put into reserve for the move. Force of Arkansas.” With those words, Russell Harrington launched the “When it came time to move, we couldn’t afford to hire movers. So, we [the staff] had to move. I’ll never forget; start of an initiative that dominated the 1990s. He it took about two weeks to get everything moved. We explained: would do our regular jobs, quit about 4:30, go change and created a plan

into our jeans and work clothes, load 18 wheelers, move them out here, unload them, quit about 11:30 or 12:00 at night. Same thing the next day, and the next day, and the next day. It was challenging, but it was something you never forgot.” Jerry Baugh remembered those days vividly: We’d work at the hospital downtown during the day and come out to the main hospital at night to get the departments up and running—everything from putting lockers together to unloading trailer trucks. Sounds crazy, but it was well organized. In order to be able to fund the building of the hospital, we had to all help. And that was just part of our job.” Lynn Weaks also remembered unloading the trailers of equipment and furniture, but he also remembers helping finish out the building: “There were several places that didn’t have Celotex ceiling, and we hung ceiling tiles, too.”


…And while there will be promotion of the program through television, radio, newspaper and billboard advertising, let me hasten to say that the real essence of The Healing Force is not promotion—it is commitment. It is commitment by every employee in this organization to be a vital participant in a total team effort that will position BMS as the driving force in our community and our state in the delivery of healthcare. To become The Healing Force will require changes in attitude and activity at all levels within our organization. Some of these changes will be readily apparent. Others will take time as we look to each other for support and input on ways to lift Baptist Medical System to a singular level of excellence as a healing ministry of the body, soul and mind.

The idea to turn Baptist Medical System trucks into moving billboards came from one of System Services’ eight teams that were formed to come up with money saving and other innovative ideas. Here Allen Smith, senior vice president/system services (far left) posed with the team who presented the idea (left to right): Gary Hooker, John Thompson, Butch Henry, Gwen Wetzel, Cyndy Jones, Karl Klopfenstein, Thelma Anderson, Jerry Snyder, Randy Dowd, and Jim Schlesser.

The 1980s End with a Bang

In April 1989, the Board found a buyer for the downtown hospital campus. But before Arkansas Children’s Hospital took the property, a couple of the old buildings had to be imploded and removed. The implosion occurred on November 11, 1989. Controlled Demolition Inc. used almost 900 pounds of explosives to take down the buildings. The system’s newsletter described the event: “In less than 10 seconds, more than 4,000 onlookers witnessed generations of healthcare, portrayed in brick and mortar, crash to the ground.” John Gilbreath, who began his long career in that building, was on hand and flipped the symbolic switch that triggered the explosion. Russ Harrington recalled that he was a little worried that the event would be too sad for Gilbreath, but Gilbreath took it in stride. He said, “There are some pleasant memories there, but that era is over… It was a wonderful stepping stone, it served us well.”


The Memorial Hospital building included a striking three-story, stained-glass window above the entrance. Valued at approximately $4,000, the piece of art was donated by an anonymous benefactor who arranged the transaction through architect John Parks Almand and featured a sunburst design with a deep blue-sky background.

The Healing Force initiative consisted of evaluating current practices and implementing continuous quality improvement techniques to make incremental changes to improve the patient’s experience with the hospital and related services. Executing that vision also meant continuing to expand revenue streams to support hospital activities. By 1995, the system consisted of many interconnected parts including four hospitals, multiple non-hospital entities—such as the two Medical Tower buildings, 13 separate corporations managing everything from a retirement community to medical laboratories, six joint ventures, and eight resource sharing affiliates. Part of the Healing Force initiative included moving to a population-based planning model. This model meant planning for the community’s future health needs according to specific estimates in areas such as future disease and usage patterns as opposed to just looking at historical trend lines of hospital use—in essence, looking at various demographic groups and anticipating their future needs. The initiative also included workforce transformation. Harrington explained: “In short, we must move from a mindset of being a hospital operating company focusing solely on ‘treating patients’ within the walls of our hospitals to being a full service, integrated health care network. As we develop this network, our approach to care will shift to being involved in every aspect of a person’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being as we focus on keeping people healthy through comprehensive preventive care and wellness services.”

Total Health

Population-based planning report, 1996


In May 1992, Baptist Medical System launched its Total Health promise—a vision to be the most comprehensive health care provider in Arkansas with a full continuum of care from inception of life to support at life’s end. To reflect that shift, the system name changed to Baptist Health in 1995. Harrington said, “Baptist Health is a name more reflective of our vision to not just treat illness and injury, but rather to become full partners with Arkansans to improve the overall health status of our great state.” The total-health concept and population-based planning led to many new initiatives—including special programs focused on women’s health and programs targeted to adults age 55+. Preventive care, screenings, and educational programs aimed at lifestyle changes to improve health all became part of the system’s approach to health care.

Reaching Out into the State Baptist Health continued to expand patient care with new hospitals and other points of access, including urgent-care clinics, family clinics, and specialty services for the next two decades. In 2016, the Board conducted an extensive strategic planning process to help chart the direction for the system. President and CEO Troy Wells told employees: In developing a new strategic plan, we spent some time reflecting on what it means to evolve as a health system. Where we historically relied on volume growth for success, we increasingly will be focused on the right care at the right time and the right place. Where historically we focused on individual encounters with patients, we will increasingly be focused on the longitudinal patient relationship. Where we have typically focused on the acute-care setting and hospitals, we increasingly will look to engage patients and consumers in a variety of settings and rely on partnerships and collaboration to help us achieve our goals. And while our environment requires adaptability and readiness to change, our values remain constant. And it’s these values that provide the foundation for how we will continue to provide care in Arkansas.

Memories: Presidential Visit

One Total Health campaign during the late 1990s encouraged people to make lifestyle changes to keep themselves healthy well into the new millennia.

On January 26, 2004, President George W. Bush visited Baptist Health Medical CenterLittle Rock to promote medical liability reform, Medicare reform, and other healthcarerelated issues. His entourage included the traveling White House press corps as well as his security team. The Connection reported that “Arkansas may have been chosen as the state for the president’s address on medical liability reform because the state enacted tort reform law last year that capped punitive damages, and the state’s two Democratic senators have opposed the proposed federal legislation.” During his remarks, the president referenced a meeting held earlier that included Russ Harrington; D’Borai Cook, a case coordinator in the emergency department; Dr. John Wilson from OrthoArkansas; and four other guests who brought various perspectives on medical malpractice reform. Bush acknowledged Harrington in his remarks: “Thank you for joining us in—we just had what they call a roundtable. The table was square. But, nevertheless, we had a great discussion. And Russ was there. He talked about this hospital, its outreach, its not only desire to serve people in the city of Little Rock, but also its desire to serve people in rural Arkansas.”


Staying true to the founders’ original mandate to provide not-for-profit, faithbased care has allowed the staff to provide—as the Baptist Health tagline says—All Our Best for a full century.


As we approach our 100th anniversary, Baptist Health remains committed to the values of its founders who believed in the importance of faith-based health care and serving people throughout the community… As important as it is to recognize what will be different about the Baptist Health of the future, it is equally important to recognize what will be the same.

The values Wells Memories: Praying with Patients shared can be seen by “I would like to share that, while looking for employlooking at these four ment, I was impressed to hear that Baptist Health aspects of the system: encourages or allows employees to pray with a patient. Not just say, “I’ll say a prayer for you”, but to actually commitment to clinical hold a patient’s hand and pray out loud with them. So, excellence, commitment if it is placed on my heart to pray with someone, I do. to creating communities, The patient’s that I’ve prayed with were impressed as well…Thank you Baptist Health for making me comfortcommitment to educaable with who I am as a Christian in my everyday walk.” tion, and commitment to —Jerrie Jones, employee the future. Staying true to the founders’ original mandate to provide not-for-profit, faith-based care has allowed the staff to provide— as the Baptist Health tagline says—All Our Best for a full century.

During the early 20th century,

Commitment to Clinical Excellence and Innovation

medicine became more scientific, and hospitals began to have more options

Today’s hospitals are scientific and technological marvels—with operating

for treating illnesses

rooms full of robotic arms and microsurgery equipment, patient rooms full of monitoring equipment and conveniences, and pharmacies containing a wide array of drugs to combat almost every illness. It’s hard to imagine health care without all these conveniences, but the field was very different 100 years ago. During the early 20th century, medicine became more scientific, and hospitals began to have more options for treating illnesses and injuries. When Baptist State Hospital’s 300-bed building was completed in 1925, just having terrazzo floors in the operating room was lauded as a breakthrough because the hard surface was easier to keep disinfected.

and injuries.

Keeping Pace in Changing Times

Operating room in the new Baptist State Hospital, 1925

The 20th century was a time of new discoveries and medical advances, and Baptist Health kept pace with new treatments and technologies—even during the lean years of the 1920s and 1930s. Baptist State Hospital made headlines in 1936 when it became the first hospital in the U.S. to use a new serum developed in France. A 26-year-old woman was being treated unsuccessfully for streptococcus veridans. One of her doctors learned of a new serum that was showing positive results. He located a supply in Montreal, Canada, but U.S. regulations prohibited importing serums and vaccines except under special permit from the Bureau of Public Health. U.S. Senator Joe T. Robinson from Arkansas intervened and secured the necessary permit for the serum to enter the country, and it was flown in from 21


Critical care section of the polio ward During 1949, the United States was in the middle of a polio epidemic. Arkansas reported 992 cases that year. In June, Arkansas Baptist Hospital became the first general institution to take this type of patient in the history of the State of Arkansas. The 1949 annual report to the Board stated: “This was in violation of the by-laws of the medical staff, and special permission was received from the staff before this work was done. A contagion unit which can take care of approximately 45 beds, was set up on an emergency basis in the chapel and the rooms immediately behind the chapel. This work is still going on with a total of some 44 or 45 patients average at a time.”

Canada. The patient responded well, but her doctors learned that they would have to get additional serum directly from France. The subsequent doses came by sea aboard the Queen Mary and were flown to Arkansas from New York. The hospital kept abreast of new developments and implemented new treatments and technologies throughout the 20th century. One of the most exciting advances came in 1961 when a team of surgeons at the Little Rock hospital performed the state’s first open heart surgery done in a private hospital. By the 1980s, many procedures could be performed on an outpatient basis, requiring no overnight hospital stay. Outpatient surgery proved to be very popular, and Baptist Health responded by building a state-of-the-art facility in Little Rock to meet the demand. New treatments and technologies progressed rapidly during the last half of the 1900s requiring a substantial investment by the system to remain state-of-the-art. By the 21st century, health care had become increasingly technology driven.

eICU New technology allowed the system to look at ways to connect its various pieces. One example launched on June 14, 2005, when Baptist Health began monitoring critical care patients via an eICU center housed on the sixth floor of the Baptist Health Eye Center building in Little Rock. Dr. Art Squire, who worked with the new eICU system, remembered, “We had 24-hour-a-day intensive care physicians and a number of nurses upstairs in the eye center using software that allowed us to see the patient, talk to the patient; see the nurses, talk to the nurses. They could talk back to us. We had all of their data from the monitors. We had all of their data from the records. We had all of their data from the laboratories—five or six screens in front of us.”

Open heart surgery, 1961


In June 1954,

Physician Integration In June 1954, the Board approved a motion to allow African-American physicians to make application for staff membership. In September, the hospital accepted the applications of its first four African-American physicians: George William Stanley Ish, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, who had practiced in Little Rock since 1910; Oba White, a graduate of Mehary Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, who had practiced in Little Rock for 20 George William Stanley Ish and nurse examining a baby. years; J. B. Woods, also a The photo was used in Ish’s booklet, “Caring for the graduate of Mehary Medical Baby.” Photo courtesy of the Arkansas State Archives. College, who had practiced medicine since 1931; and John Marshall Robinson, a graduate of Knoxville Medical College, who had practiced in Little Rock since 1928. Arkansas Baptist Hospital had an African-American unit on the ground floor, but those patients had to be transferred to white doctors’ care before the hospital integrated. Expanding the physician community brought many new patients to the hospital.

the Board approved a motion to allow African-American physicians to make application for staff membership.

Hospital employees tour the new Outpatient Services Center days before the grand opening on September 15, 1980


Surgery during the 1950s versus surgery in the 21st century after the development of robotic equipment

Arkansas’s First Heart Transplant In 1988, Baptist Medical Center initiated a transplant program to perform liver and heart transplants. Dr. John Ransom, a cardiovascular surgeon who began his practice in Little Rock in 1981, helped put the new transplant program into place. Ransom said, “I recruited Craig Kuykendall, who grew up in Hot Springs and trained in Houston— he was freshly out of training.” On November 10, 1989, Mary Wilson of Jacksonville underwent the first heart transplant surgery in Arkansas at Baptist Medical Center. Wilson had been diagnosed with severe cardiomyopathy, an abnormality of the heart muscle, 18 months earlier. She was put on the waiting list for a heart two weeks before the historic surgery. Jared Wilcox, a 10-year-old boy from Bald Knob, died at Baptist Medical Center from smoke inha- The first heart transplant operation began at lation after his family’s home 2 a.m. and lasted two hours and 15 minutes. The burned on November 8. Smoke donor had died just a few hours earlier. inhalation from the fire also took the life of his nine-year-old brother, Jake. The boy’s parents gave permission for the organs to be donated for transplantation late on November 9. Dr. Craig Kuykendall performed the transplant procedure, assisted by Dr. Ransom. Dr. Bill Fiser led the team harvesting the organ from Jared Wilcox. Many of the people involved acknowledged the bittersweet aspect of the event. Peggy Betts, LPN, said, “During the procedure, I couldn’t keep from thinking about that life was ending for the child. But, I made myself think of Mrs. Wilson and lengthening her life. And it was such a great feeling when that new heart started beating inside her.”


In June 2009, the

An Epic Undertaking In June 2009, the staff launched a new project with far reaching implications for the entire system—converting to the Epic clinical information system. Nurses had been using an electronic medical record system for more than a decade, but Epic allowed physicians to input their orders directly into the patient record and captured information throughout the workflow to create a system that allowed instant access to information electronically. The system took three years to build. Colleen Woodruff, the nurse champion for the project, said at the beginning, “While it may sound simple to say we will build one Epic system that will be used by all Baptist Health facilities, it will take an incredible amount of work to understand the workflows and processes at all of our facilities and come to consensus on the one workflow or process we will build.” In 2016, Baptist Health expanded Epic beyond the hospitals to every affiliated physician clinic, specialty clinic, and rural health clinic in the system. This expansion gave the system a single Eye Care platform for the elecIn 1945, The Arkansas tronic health record Democrat reported: “Little across all points of care. Rock, along with about a Epic allowed patients dozen other cities over the nation is to have an ‘eye to access their medical bank’ for the storing of volinformation through a untarily donated corneas and corneal transplantapatient portal called tions that the blind may MyChart. Staff also could see.” The program was a offer patients entering the project of the hospital’s Women’s Auxiliary. hospital a tablet linked to At that time Arkansas law MyChart Bedside to be prohibited living persons able to access information from “willing any part of their about their care during dead bodies,” However, the next-of-kin could make their stay.

BH3C In 2021, Baptist Health implemented BH3C—with the “3C” standing for Care, Connect, and Communicate––in all patient rooms, making it easy for patients to connect with loved ones by using video

staff launched a new project with far reaching implications for the entire system— converting to the Epic clinical information system.

these kinds of donations after the person was dead. The Women’s Auxiliary promoted the donation program and provided forms for the next-of-kin to pledge their loved one’s eyes. They also had a form a person could complete to ask their next-of-kin to donate their corneas after death. Two years later, the hospital received much attention when a convicted murderer wanted to donate his corneas. Vollie Bill Bates died by electrocution at the Tucker prison, and his body was rushed to Little Rock immediately after for the corneas to be harvested. Breakthroughs in eye care continued to advance the field, and in 1994, Baptist Medical System built Baptist Eye Center—the system’s first freestanding ambulatory surgery center—on the Little Rock campus.


Integrated electronic patient records paved the way for additional technology-based advances such as telehealth. The myBaptistHealth app gives patients access to care through video visits on mobile phones, tablets, and computers.

calling technology. It is an important part of Baptist Health’s continued focus on innovation through virtual care and telehealth to improve care delivery and the patient experience. At any point during their stay, patients can send their family member a secure link that connects them virtually and improves the ongoing communication during the stay.

Soft Skills

Home Care Baptist Health’s commitment to clinical excellence extends throughout the system’s continuum of care, including inhome services such as: • Baptist Health Home Health Network provides skilled nursing visits; home health aides; physical, occupational, and speech therapy; social work; and telehealth in the patient’s home. • The system’s hospice program provides a full-range of end-of-life care for patients and their families. • Complete Health with PACE (Program

of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) Technology has advanced the way helps older adults who are eligible for care is given, but Troy Wells knows nursing home care but prefer to live at that clinical excellence still relies on home. the “soft skills” and looks toward how to prepare staff for the future of caregiving. He explains: “The technical skill, we’ve offloaded. You can’t know more than that machine knows, and you can’t think as fast as that machine thinks, and you


Timeline: Notable Firsts 1926: Arkansas Baptist reported that the new Baptist State Hospital was the only hospital in the South with a fully equipped drug store and registered pharmacist in charge. 1938: Doctors operated on a 15-year-old girl with keratoconus (a condition that occurs when the cornea thins and bulges outward into a cone shape). It was described as one of the few operations of its kind ever performed successfully in the U.S. 1945: The hospital’s Women’s Auxiliary established the first eye bank in Arkansas, and the hospital initiated a cornea transplant program. 1948: Surgeons performed the state’s first “blue baby” heart surgery. 1956: Arkansas Baptist Hospital opened its new psychiatric unit, the first such unit in a private general hospital in the state. 1961: A team of surgeons performed the state’s first open-heart surgery in a private hospital. The seven-hour operation was the result of more than six months of preparation and training. 1962: Arkansas Baptist Hospital opened the state’s first eye center in a private hospital—a $25,000 facility exclusively for surgical and other treatments of eye diseases. 1985: Baptist Medical Center began operating the only Level II Trauma Center in Arkansas. 1989: Baptist Medical Center’s transplant program began when Dr. Everett Tucker and Dr. Robert Casali harvested a mother’s kidney and transplanted it into her daughter. 1989: Dr. Craig Kuykendall and Dr. John Ransom performed the first heart transplant in the state using a heart harvested by Dr. Bill Fiser from a 10-year-old boy. The recipient went home five weeks after the successful operation. 1999: Baptist Health Memorial Medical Center in North Little Rock was the first hospital in the western hemisphere to implant a new pain relief device—the Synergy Neurostimulation System—for chronic back-pain sufferers. 2001: Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock became the first hospital in the state to offer Radiofrequency Interstitial Tissue Ablation, a new liver tumor treatment. 2005: Baptist Health launched a new eICU care program—the first use of a system to monitor ICU patients remotely 24/7 in the region. 2006: Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock added cutting-edge technology by purchasing the da Vinci Surgical System, a robotic surgical tool to assist surgeons in cardiac, prostate, and gastric bypass procedures. 2012: Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock performed the state’s first single-site robotic surgery using an incision of less than one inch to remove a patient’s gall bladder in less than 30 minutes. 2014: Baptist Health became the first system in the state to offer clot vacuuming (AngioVac) to remove blood clots in the blood vessels leading to the heart. 2015: The Baptist Health Center for Clinical Research oversaw the first Cytori Cell Therapy procedure in the U.S. to treat patients with scleroderma. The procedure had been performed only 12 times previously, all in Europe. 2017: Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock implanted the state’s first Total Artificial Heart on a 21-year-old man. 2018: Neurosurgeons at Baptist Health perform the first robotically-assisted minimally invasive spine surgery in Arkansas using the Mazor X Robotic Guidance Platform. 2018: Baptist Health was the first in central Arkansas to offer robotic-arm assisted total knee, partial knee, and total hip replacement with Stryker’s Mako System. 2018: Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway became the first hospital in Arkansas to utilize the Stryker Pivot Guardian Distraction System for hip surgery. 2019: Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock became the first hospital in the U.S. to adopt the EleGARD Patient Positioning System for CPR. 2019: Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway was the first hospital in the state to offer the Inspire device – innovative technology for patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) that removes the burdens of a sleep mask or hose. 2021: Baptist Health becomes the first in Arkansas to offer Aquablation therapy for the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms due to an enlarged prostate.


“Soft skills like empathy, teamwork, good judgement, and relationship building have always been important. But with the changing role of technology, these emotional skills are more important than ever.” Troy Wells


can’t know the universe of things that it knows. “So, now you ask, ‘what do I need to be trained in,’ or ‘how do I think about my development as a caregiver in a world where the computer and machines are doing much of what I used to do?’ “Soft skills like empathy, teamwork, good judgement, and relationship building have always been important. But with the changing role of technology, these emotional skills are more important than ever.”

One-on-one interactions with patients remain at the heart of Baptist Health’s commitment to clinical excellence.

On July 1, 1921, 25 women met to

Commitment to Creating Communities

organize a Women’s Auxiliary for Baptist State Hospital.

Creating communities means many different things at Baptist Health: a sense of family among staff, a sense of belonging to something greater that yourself to volunteers, a feeling of partnership with patients and families, and a synergy with other organizations.

Volunteers On July 1, 1921, 25 women met to organize a Women’s Auxiliary for Baptist State Hospital. The following September, the Auxiliary launched a campaign for funds in which they asked each Baptist woman in the state to pledge $1 annually to be used for the care of hospital patients who could not otherwise afford medical treatment. The Auxiliary focused primarily on raising funds for charity cases, providing canned goods for the kitchen, and providing linens and other furnishings for patient rooms. In the 1990s, the Auxiliary began raising money for grants and has donated more than $1.4 million for projects throughout the system. Baptist Health Foundation began in 1963 as Baptist Health and Research Foundation with a board of five people. That Foundation reorganized in 1979 as a separate corporation and expanded its Board of Trustees from five to 27 members as it prepared to take on a larger role in the system—primarily through fund development and building community support. Membership on the Foundation board was not restricted to only Baptists—a first for the system. The Foundation created the Bolo Bash—a western-themed event—as its annual fundraiser and raised $49,000 for the hospital’s fledgling transplant program the first year. In its second year, Bolo Bash raised more than $100,000 to help defray the cost of relocating the nursing school.

The Auxiliary’s annual drive provided thousands of linens for the hospital over the years.


Ann Bayless, Betty Lile and Terry Upshaw model designer denim jackets that were auctioned off at the first Bolo Bash in 1989.

The Play Hospital program brought thousands of children to Baptist Medical Center and gave them a first-hand understanding of what a hospital does. For each group, children were chosen to play a mother, a father, and a sick child and volunteers took them through the hospital process of caring for a sick child.


Bolo Bash became a series of events that have helped fund projects, large and small, throughout the system and have raised more than $14 million dollars for the system. Volunteers working Memories: Volunteers in the hospital provide When Lee Gammill became superintendent in 1941, he countless services to recognized the value of the Women’s Auxiliary and patients and their famwanted to create stronger ties with the group. He asked one member, Florence Rudisill, to form a closer relationilies. This army of helpers ship with the institution by spending a part of her time staff waiting room desks, each day in the building. provide information to Mrs. Rudisill spent much of her time at the hospital, and patients and visitors, perfellow Auxiliary member Lila Pye recalled: “I never saw Mrs. Rudisill shed tears but three times in the years I form small services for knew her. She was not given to vain emotions…The patients, comfort families other time was once when she thought someone had and friends, and extend criticized this hospital undeservedly. One day as we spoke together of the incident, two tears spilled over the system’s healing her eyelids and coursed down her cheeks as she said: ministry in countless “You know, Mrs. Pye, I can hardly bear it, for this is just MY HOSPITAL.” other ways.

Candy Stripers learning CPR techniques, 1978


(Top left) 1953: Ella Mae Walker received a $25 savings bond from John Gilbreath as winner of a courtesy slogan contest. Her entry was: “Courtesy is an aid to medicine.” (Top right) 1968: Employees from the Little Rock and North Little Rock hospitals raised more than $120,000 to go toward construction of the new hospital in west Little Rock.

1985: Don Wallace, Dan Gaithright, and Russ Harrington lead a cheer at a system update meeting. Gaithright was known for his “creative and uproarious manner of disseminating information.”


Staff John Gilbreath was famous for what he termed “management by walking around.” Staff members remember him strolling into their departments, asking them what they were working on, and listening to their ideas and concerns. This kind of one-on-one interaction helped build strong ties between management and staff at all levels, and as the system grew, leadership looked for opportunities to keep the spirit of family alive across the system. Today, each department and shift across the system meets daily for a “Huddle.” These brief meetings allow leadership to share information across the system through

1988: The North Little Rock hospital celebrated its 25th anniversary with a Dixieland-style festival parade with pall bearers escorting a time capsule, which was buried on the hospital grounds.

a brief communication sheet and give the staff an opportunity to check in with each other on department-specific concerns. Award programs, thank-you events, staff-participaMemories: Staff tion events, celebratory gifts all keep the spirit of family “Baptist Health has greatly influenced my life. My late grandmother, Fay Sloan, M.D., joined Arkansas alive. And through the years, staff members have felt Anesthesia at Baptist Health in 1966 where she served invested in “their” hospital and supported its growth as Section Chief of Anesthesia for a number of years, and initiatives. retiring in 1989. This was an incredible and inspiring feat for women, at the time. “My mother, Ann McQueen, took her first position at Baptist Health-Little Rock in 1977 as the only Speech Pathologist. She then became a supervisor and started a Speech Pathology department at the North Little Rock campus. She became the director of Outpatient Services at Little Rock in 1988. She would finally retire as system director of Patient and Community Services in 2019, after 42 years of service to Baptist Health, leaving quite the impressive contribution. “The women in my family have talked about Baptist Health and the footprints they were leaving here from the time I was learning to walk. I feel as if I partially grew up here, granting me an understanding of the legacy of Baptist Health in a unique way, because that legacy is very intertwined with my own. I was born here and now I have worked here for seven years. I have a great respect for this organization, a unique understanding of its history, and a desire to be part of its growth and development into the future.” 2004: Staff celebrated the 20th anniversary of the west Little Rock location with a back-to-the-70s party.

—Megan McQueen


In September 1995, Baptist Medical Center partnered with the Arkansas Army and Air National Guard and the Arkansas Interagency Council on the Homeless to create the largest field hospital ever built in Arkansas—Operation Care. During the three-day event, more than 3,300 people received services in 60 tent structures erected on a vacant city lot in North Little Rock.


Partnerships Baptist Health has a long history of creating synergy through strategic partnerships and initiatives, as these examples show: : Baptist Medical Center combined resources with St. Vincent Infirmary, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and the Veterans Administration Hospital to create Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy (now CARTI), to have a centralized location instead of the individual hospitals maintaining the very expensive individual cobalt units to treat cancer patients. :

Baptist Medical Center partnered with the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission (ASCC) to create Arkansas Rehabilitation Institute—a spinal cord treatment center to provide intermediate care and rehabilitation at Central Baptist Hospital. As the program grew (ARI) expanded into all areas of physical rehabilitation.


The system partnered with physicians to create Health Advantage, a health maintenance organization for Pulaski County. And in the 1990s, it took the HMO out into the state through a partnership with Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield.


Baptist Health and Arkansas Regional Innovation announced the state’s first and only privately funded, industry-specific business accelerator program— HubX LifeSciences to encourage startup companies with innovative solutions to improve health care delivery in Arkansas.


Baptist Health partnered with UAMS and Arkansas Children’s to develop and operate a proton therapy center on UAMS’ Little Rock campus. It will be the state’s first proton therapy center, offering a highly sophisticated radiation-based technology for cancer treatment that has the capability to deliver safer, high-dose radiation to cancer patients compared to traditional X-ray radiation treatment.


The first UAMS Baptist Health Cancer Center location opened in 2021 on the Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock campus. This collaboration between Baptist Health and the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute increases access to advanced cancer care for all Arkansans.

The Big Blanket explained Baptist Medical System’s concept of total health in a child-friendly format.

Community Programs A June 1992 newsletter article discussing the system’s commitment to provide leadership in responsible health care stated, “To accomplish this goal, Baptist Medical System is partnering with individuals, businesses, and communities throughout the state to deliver Arkansas solutions to Arkansas health needs. Like a fine handcrafted quilt that unites diverse pieces of cloth into a single, new fabric, Baptist is bringing these partnerships together in a unified effort for better health.” The quilt reference came from a children’s book written by Karin Pritikin and published by Baptist Medical System in 1991. Board member Elizabeth Stephens Campbell said, “I think The Big Blanket book is a fantastic way to spread the word about how Baptist wants to provide access to total health for everyone in Arkansas. And, what could be a better representation of wrapping the state in total health than the Baptist quilt? Both of them are wonderful.”

Part of the Healing Force initiative included connecting with people in their communities. Here Marsha Holiman plays Heart E. Apple at the 1993 Arkansas State Fair.


Baptist Health’s mobile health unit travels the state providing outreach and services.


Reaching out into the community took many forms. The Arkadelphia hospital purchased the system’s first mobile health unit to be able to provide services in the rural areas of the county, the system’s hospitals participated in community wellness clinics, performed screening services at community events, formed support groups within communities, and promoted healthy lifestyles such as the InStep Walking Club, which was a joint program between the North Little Rock hospital and McCain Mall. As the system has expanded and created points of service outside the hospitals’ walls, it also has created connections by providing support for local community events and being a good citizen as well as a care provider.

During the 1940s, the nursing school was

Commitment to Education

approved for the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corp program, which

Baptist Health’s commitment to education also goes back 100 years, when

provided funding to

the original hospital opened a nursing school. These nursing students lived on the hospital campus, received training from the hospital’s nurses and physicians, and provided patient care in the hospital. The school grew quickly enrolling 33 new students in 1921 and 48 in 1922. By the end of the 1930s, the school had enrolled more than 600 students. During the 1940s, the nursing school was approved for the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corp program, which provided funding to train nurses for the war effort. By 1944, all 150 nurses in the Baptist State Hospital School of Nursing participated in the Cadet Nurse Corps program.

train nurses for the war effort.

Lee Gammill (center back) with graduating nursing students and faculty, 1932


After 48 years of operation, the last class graduated in 1968, bringing the total number of registered nurses trained at the hospital to 1,541.

By the 1950s, nursing education was moving away from three-year diploma programs to four-year degree programs. John Gilbreath told the Board that he believed “Baptist Hospital will be severely criticized in future years by students who are now receiving their education here…There seems to be a trend which will eventually require an R.N. to have a degree in order to maintain her professional standing. Under such a setup, graduates from a three-year school would have no credit toward this degree.” The hospital affiliated with Baylor University in Waco, Texas, to provide the academic training for the nursing school. The hospital also instituted a non-degree vocational program for practical and technical nurses. The Baylor affiliation lasted two years after which the hospital went back to a three-year program that included nine months of pre-clinical college credit provided by Little Rock Junior College. In October 1965, the hospital announced plans to close the nursing school, saying no new applicants would be accepted and the school would phase out the school over the next two years as the current students graduated. After 48 years of operation, the last class graduated in 1968, bringing the total number of registered nurses trained at the hospital to 1,541.

U.S. Cadet Nurse Ledenia Hughes


(Top) The technologies may have changed, but nurses through the years have practiced on their classmates as seen in these photos from the 1950s and the 1970s. (Bottom) Nurse capping ceremony, 1991


Baptist Health College students in parking lot, 2014


In 1969, the hospital partnered with State College of Arkansas (now the University of Central Arkansas) in Conway for several allied health programs. Students who enrolled in the college’s tracks for radiological technology, physical therapy, occupations therapy, respiratory therapy, and medical technology received training at the hospital as part of their curriculum. A national nursing shortage during the early 1970s prompted the Board to reestablish a system-owned school to train registered nurses in 1976. The school was opened at Central Baptist Hospital in downtown Little Rock with Shirlene Harris, formerly director of nursing at Central Baptist Hospital, as director of the new school. By 1989, Baptist Medical System School of Nursing had the largest enrollment in the U.S. of diploma schools preparing registered nurses. That same year, the Board sold the downtown Central Baptist Hospital property, and all of the nursing and allied health programs moved to what is now Baptist Health College located at Colonel Glenn and Bowman roads in west Little Rock. Baptist Medical System Foundation raised more than $100,000 at its 2nd annual Bolo Bash fundraiser, and donated that money to help defray the cost of relocating the nursing and allied health schools. Today, Baptist Health College offers nine programs: Medical Laboratory Science, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Practical Nursing, Radiography, Traditional (Nursing), LPN/Paramedic, Sleep Technology, and Surgical Technology.

Interns and Residents Dr. W. B. Grayson holds the distinction of being Baptist State Hospital’s first intern—coming to the hospital on July 1, 1921. At a 1960 reunion of former interns and residents, Grayson recalled that in those days interns had more extensive privileges, saying, “We ran the accident room, we gave anesthetics and we often assisted in major surgery.” The hospital saw an increase in the number of interns in 1922, when it became one of the clinical training hospitals for the University of Arkansas Medical Department. The doctors spent one year working in all phases of patient treatment during the internship and could take an additional year of training in a specialty area as a resident. The system’s commitment to providing training through internships and residencies extended beyond the medical. J. F. Queen, the hospital’s first full-time chaplain held a variety of training programs for other

Internship Leads to Career with Baptist Health Dr. Joe Shuffield, a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine, began his internship at Baptist State Hospital in 1925. Shuffield had a long and distinguished career with the hospital system and was one of its strongest supporters. During the 1950s, Shuffield served as chief of services and helped train the nursing students. In 1951, the students dedicated their school annual to him. The dedication said in part: “You are the someone whom we respect, trust and in whom we can perJoe Shuffield, 1951 sonally confide. You are the one who is always there with that twinkle in your eye, that gives us the feeling Kipling once expressed in a poem—‘Hold on, when there is nothing left within you; Except the will which says, hold on.’”

Timeline 1921: The original school of nursing program began at Baptist State Hospital. The first graduates were: Lelia Harlan, Clarice Edmonson, Eunice Funk, Daisy Simpson, and Inez Burton. 1944: Baptist State Hospital was accepted as a training location for the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corp program. 1952: Arkansas Baptist Hospital became the only institution in Arkansas with a co-ed nursing program when a group of students including eight male nurses transferred from Levi Memorial Hospital in Hot Springs. 1968: After 47 years of operation, the Arkansas Baptist School of Nursing closed. 1976: Baptist System School of Nursing reopened. Henderson State University provided faculty and instruction for the required 28 hours of collegiate credit. 1989: All of the nursing and allied health programs moved to a new location at Col. Glenn and Bowman roads in west Little Rock and became the Baptist Schools of Nursing and Allied Health. 1990: Baptist Medical System School of Nursing Northwest opened in Fayetteville. Baptist Medical System operated the school, provided faculty, and determined the curriculum; Washington Regional Medical System and Springdale Memorial Hospital provided the physical and clinical facilities. 1997: Baptist School of Nursing Southeast opened in McGehee. The school was designed for LPNs and LPTNs in the accelerated track of the School of Nursing. 2015: Baptist Health Schools Little Rock became Baptist Health College Little Rock after gaining certification to grant degrees from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. 2017: Baptist Health College began offering Associate of Applied Sciences degrees in histotechnology and surgical technology. 2018: Baptist Health and UAMS partnered to create the Baptist Health-UAMS Medical Education Program.


“The ministry to the spiritual needs of the patient and his family is of utmost importance to the hospital today. Arkansas Baptist Hospital offers a chaplain intern program for the minister who desires to become a hospital chaplain.”

pastors, and the hospital instituted a formal Chaplain Intern Program that was described this way in 1961: “The ministry to the spiritual needs of the patient and his family is of utmost importance to the hospital today. Arkansas Baptist Hospital offers a chaplain intern program for the minister who desires to become a hospital chaplain. During his 12month internship, the minister seeks out new experiences and becomes The School of Pastoral Care curriculum included seminars, literature reviews, physician lectures, and group discussions adept in ministering to the spiritual needs of the patient and his family.” By the 1970s, the system had established the School of Pastoral Care—a sixweek training program. Since 2010, the Clinical Pastoral Education Program is a fully-accredited center with the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education. The hospital also offered an Administrative Residency Program, which was described this way: “The administrative resident can be compared to the medical intern. While the medical intern is concerned primarily with the treatment of the patient, the administrative resident is dealing with the managing of the hospital. After fulfilling the one-year requirement in the residency training experience, the administrative resident is then eligible to acquire a job in a hospital in an administrative capacity.”

Physician Education In October 2018, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education approved an innovative new initiative. Baptist Health and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences partnered to create the Baptist Health-UAMS Medical Education Program to address the shortage of physicians in Arkansas. The three-year graduate medical-education program, housed in a new building on the Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock campus, offers training in the areas of internal medicine and family medicine. The first class consisted of 24 residents, and plans for the future include growing the program to 120 new residency training spots.


The Baptist Health-UAMS Medical Education program addresses a critical shortage of primary-care physicians in the state.


Throughout its history, Baptist Health has evaluated current and future staffing needs and created educational opportunities to fill those needs. The system’s commitment to education includes

Throughout its history, Baptist Health has evaluated current and future staffing needs and created educational oppor tunities to fill those needs. The system’s commitment to education includes keeping existing staff up to date on trends and best practices through in-service and other educational opportunities.

Specialized Training As new areas of technical expertise developed, Baptist Health opened specialized schools to meet the hospitals’ growing needs. 1950s: X-ray Technology (Radiography), Technician Nursing 1960s: Medical Laboratory Science (Medical Technology), Practical Nursing 1970s: Histotechnology, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Nurse Aide (CNA), 1980s: Coding Technology, Medical Transcription, 1990s: Surgical Technology 2000s: Occupational Therapy Assistant, Sleep Technology

keeping existing staff up to date on trends and best practices through in-service and other educational opportunities.

Learning to use EleGARD CPR equipment


In 1953, John Gilbreath said, “The

Commitment to the Future

days of running a hospital on what you collect from the

The 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s were lean years, and the hospital focused pri-

patients are over…

marily on survival and paying off the debt incurred for operational costs and the bonds and expenses to build the permanent building. After World War II, the hospital prospered and experienced much growth, which allowed leadership to do more longrange planning and think in terms of how to sustain the hospital and grow services.

Every successful hospital must have subsidies or endowments to

Subsidizing the Core Mission In 1953, John Gilbreath said, “The days of running a hospital on what you collect from the patients are over…Every successful hospital must have subsidies or endowments to survive.” Gilbreath was talking about the retail operations in the medical arts building on the downtown campus, which helped subsidize a single hospital with physician offices, a retail pharmacy, and a coffee shop. During the next 30 years, the Board explored ways to subsidize an entire hospital system. They found opportunities to create new revenue streams to support the hospitals’ operation and charity mission and branched out into a variety of new areas, including building physician offices, retail spaces, a retirement community, and a hotel for outpatients and patients’ families. Baptist Medical System also entered into a number of affiliate agreements to provide services to hospitals around the state. The services ranged from group purchasing to consultation in various areas of hospital operations to providing full-time management for day-to-day operations. The affiliate hospital program gave Baptist Medical System the opportunity to share its expertise across the state. “We really got the opportunity to get involved in


Medical Arts Building coffee shop, ca. 1952


In June 1982, the Board applied to the Little Rock Planning Commission to develop a retirement community that would offer a full range of residential care programs to older adults. After gaining approval, the Board incorporated Parkway Village on July 8, 1982.


those hospitals,” recalled Jerry Baugh, who served as vice president for clinical services. “Most people have issues that they need solved, and they’re trying to prevent something from being closed. We saw the opportunity for the size of Baptist [Health] to be able to give them the benefit of operating on a cost-saving basis. And then we had the ability technically to provide the backup support, so they weren’t on their own about how to improve things and to be able to put in new systems.” Other examples include: : Practice Plus (1993)—a physician resource company that provided management, revenue cycle management, computer software and hardware support, and consulting services. :

Arkansas Health Group (1995)—a physician group practice company initially formed to “better position physicians for health care delivery of the future (e.g., managed care). This marked the first time the system directly employed physicians.


Baptist Health Center for Clinical Research (2012)—the Center has the capability to conduct all four of the established phases for drug testing—establishing safety and tolerability for new drugs, establishing the optimal dose range for the administration of a drug, testing the efficacy of the drug, and compiling additional information about risks and benefits.


Diamond Risk Insurance (2016)—the state’s first special-purpose captive insurance company, which provides liability and workers compensation coverage.

Growing a Sustainable System Small hospitals around the state struggled during the Great Depression and war years, and several asked Baptist State Hospital to purchase them or take over their operations. The Board considered several possibilities through the years, but each time chose to remain focused on stabilizing the existing hospital. As the hospital became more financially stable, leadership began to consider expansion opportunities. Since the hospital partnered with the City of North Little Rock to create Memorial Hospital, the system has added nine additional hospitals through lease/management agreements, new construction, or purchase contracts. The largest transaction came in 2018 when Baptist Health purchased the Sparks Health System, which included the Fort Smith and Van Buren hospitals for $105.3 million. As Baptist Health grew through these acquisitions, the Board had to consider these transactions from numerous angles, including issues such as antitrust laws. “Any time you do an acquisition like Sparks Regional, you do have to be concerned about antitrust issues, said Judy Henry, chair of the Board’s audit/compliance committee. “That’s one of the things I think is so prudent about our management here at Baptist; [when] they see a transaction or an opportunity, they do a really good job of vetting that opportunity—and they do it from every perspective. We look at our mission statement. We ask, ‘Does this meet with our mission?’ We look at our values system—‘Does this help us achieve our values?’ We look at our strategic plan—‘Is this within the strategic plan?’ If it’s not—‘Are we willing to make a change in the strategic plan for this opportunity?’”

Medical Towers II consisted of two separate projects. The lower floors housed the Arkansas Rehabilitation Institute, and the upper floors were developed by a group of real estate and medical professions as office suites.

Strategic Planning During the past 100 years, the system has grown from a single hospital to 11 hospitals plus hundreds of additional points of access. The staff has grown from 44 to approximately 11,000 people. The ability to navigate that level of growth and change without drifting off course has been one of Baptist Health’s greatest strengths. Staying true to the original hospital’s mission—to be a healing ministry—and remaining a not-for-profit, faith-based system still charts the system’s direction. The Board’s 2016 strategic planning efforts emphasized some key directions for the system: 47


Increased focus on providing the “right care at the right time and the right place”


Increased focus on the “longitudinal patient relationship” instead of individual encounters

but Baptist Health is


Engaging patients and consumers in a wide variety of settings

committed to meeting


Pursuing partnerships and collaborations

The next 100 years will bring more changes and new challenges,

them with the same Christian compassion and heart for service

The next 100 years will bring more changes and new challenges, but Baptist Health is committed to meeting them with the same Christian compassion and heart for service that it has today.

that it has today.

Less Personal/More Personalized When describing the future of health care and the impact of technology, Troy Wells uses the phrase “less personal and more personalized.” He explains: “When you consider advances like genetic mapping that has led to the field of pharmacogenetics, health care is becoming much more personalized. We now know what drugs work best for you based on your genetic makeup, and that might be different than what works for me. “And then you consider advances in artificial intelligence where we now have computers that are reading X-rays. Care becomes much better for you in a personalized way, but it can seem less personal at the same time. “When I think about health care and our ministry at Baptist Health, we value human-tohuman interaction more than anything. As technology plays a greater role in health care, it is crucial that we understand the role of technology and the role of caregivers when it comes to relationships and spiritual healing.”


Postscript: COVID-19

Baptist Health’s 100 years of service is bookended by the last outbreaks of the Spanish Flu epidemic in Arkansas in 1920 and the COVID19 pandemic that was first reported in Arkansas in 2020. It seems fitting to end this book with some highlights and snapshots from the past year to document how the health care heroes at Baptist Health met the greatest health challenge our nation has faced in the 21st century.

Gearing Up to Meet the Challenge The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first coronavirus case in the United States on January 21, 2020, and the healthcare community prepared to implement infection-control procedures. On March 11, 2020—the same day the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic—a Pine Bluff hospital reported Arkansas’s first case. The next day, a patient who had arrived earlier at the emergency room at Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock

1920 ad

Visitor restrictions began almost immediately and empty waiting rooms became common sights.


The next week, Governor Asa Hutchinson closed all public schools until after spring break, and the long year of closures, cancellations, sheltering in place, and social distancing began. Baptist Health responded immediately by limiting visitors to the hospitals and working with physicians to reschedule non-urgent procedures and surgical cases to reduce potential exposure and to conserve personal protective equipment.

Governor Asa Hutchinson called for a statewide mask mandate in July 2020.


tested positive, and a few days later the first patient tested positive at Baptist Health Medical CenterLittle Rock. The next week, Governor Asa Hutchinson closed all public schools until after spring break, and the long year of closures, cancellations, sheltering in place, and social distancing began. Baptist Health responded immediately by limiting visitors to the hospitals and working with physicians to reschedule non-urgent Baptist Health began issuing daily updates to staff the day procedures and surgical after Arkansas’s first case was announced. cases to reduce potential exposure and to conserve personal protective equipment. The Human Resources department created a staffing command center to respond to the anticipated surge in patients and allow staff who worked in areas affected by the reduction in elective surgeries and other areas to redeploy in other areas, as needed.

Troy Wells told the Corporation members, “From the moment that we realized that no community would be spared from the pandemic, the men and women of Baptist Health responded with the commitment and fortitude that you would expect. It has truly been inspiring.” Leadership created a command structure and a communication strategy that included regularly scheduled daily phone calls—including weekends—to communicate information and make adjustments to systems. “We were all together as a system, working through the challenges and the preparation,” said Wells. Dr. Amanda Novack, medical director for infection control, pushed for Baptist Health to become the first health care system in Arkansas to require all employees with patient contact to go to universal masking. According to Novack, some people at other hospitals thought the move was overkill, but she was glad leadership supported the proactive stance. “People in leadership positions just said, ‘Tell us what you need,’” said Novack.

Lisa Farmer scrambled to keep Baptist Health stocked with the critically needed personal protective equipment.


No one knew exactly

The Longest Year

how the pandemic

No one knew exactly how the pandemic would play out, but the early optimism about its duration quickly ended. “For this to have taken on the magnitude it has really was beyond what any of us imagined coming,” said Novack. Personal protective equipment (PPE) quickly became scarce as supply chain issues set in. Lisa Farmer, the system’s vice president of supply chain, worked with every contact she had made during her 30-plus years in the business to keep up with

would play out, but the early optimism about its duration quickly ended.

Parking decks and parking lots quickly were converted to screening sites.


demand. Farmer said, “There was a point where we were literally down to two days’ worth of N95 masks on hand, and I was sweating bullets and worried sick. I was tapping every resource I could. I didn’t care if I bought one mask or 10 masks. Any quantity I got was so critical.”

“I was tapping every resource I could. I didn’t care if I bought one mask or 10 masks. Any quantity I got was so critical.” Lisa Farmer

Throughout the Baptist Health system, leadership worked to keep staff morale up in the face of the daunting challenges.


The community showed their support through thank you messages, food donations, and socially distanced events such as truckers lighting up the parking lot.


Community support took many forms— food deliveries to hospital staff, parkinglot prayers and tributes, and groups sewing homemade masks for employees and visitors.

The number of cases continued to grow as the virus spread throughout the state. In October 2020, Arkansas had four consecutive days with more than 1,000 new cases each day. By mid-November the Arkansas Department of Health was reporting more than 2,000 new cases per day. As other organizations struggled to find PPE, Baptist Health often was able to help. It turned out to be a “loaves and fishes” situation. As Baptist Health shared supplies, individuals and groups began to donate more than were given away. A former patient donated 100,000 N95 masks. An HVAC company donated 10,000 N95 masks that were being held in storage for rice farmers. Farmer said, “We made the decision to help others. We would give away 10 masks and then get a donation the next day of 1,000 masks. It started happening with such repetition that after the first couple of times it started to feel like there is something going on here.” Community support took many forms—food deliveries to hospital staff, parking-lot prayers and tributes, and groups sewing homemade masks for employees and visitors.

The Physical and Emotional Toll Governor Hutchinson named Troy Wells to serve on his Winter Task Force as hospitalizations continued to rise. The Baptist Health facilities in Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Fort Smith increased their critical care capacity in anticipation of the rising numbers. Staff moved non-COVID-19 patients into other areas to create more critical care capacity, and every available space was converted for patient care. For example, J. A. Gilbreath Conference Center and Shuffield Auditorium were converted to patient space in the Little Rock hospital.


“I’ve seen some of the nurses have to leave the department and go back into the nursing lounge and cry for a little while. But God bless them; they turn around and they come back, and they put that smile back on their face and they go back to serve the public.” Dr. Eric Bravo

Even animals showed up bearing food for staff.


COVID-19 created stress at every level for everyone in the state—everything from layoffs, furloughs, and businesses closing to trying to find toilet paper. The hospitals’ waiting rooms sat empty as restrictions prevented visitors. Families were stressed by not being able to see their loved ones, and patients were dying alone, with only the hospital staff to care for them. Knowing they were filling the role of family created an additional level of stress for the staff. Dr. Wendell Pahls, medical director of Emergency Services, explained, “With Covid, every day you’re having these frightening, stressful, emotional experiences, and then you go back for the second half of your shift and you do it again. And then you know you’re going to come in for the next three of four days in a row and do it every single day because it’s happening over and over again.” Dr. Eric Bravo added, “I’ve seen some of the nurses have to leave the department and go back into the nursing lounge and cry for a little while. But God bless them; they turn around and they come back, and they put that smile back on their face and they go back to serve the public.”

Mike Perkins, president of Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock, said the staff members “were going above and beyond on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level unlike anything they’d been asked to do before—and not surprisingly, they stepped up and did it.”

At the Baptist Health College, educators adapted to the “new normal” with protective gear and events such as drive-through graduation.


As pharmaceutical


companies raced to

The federal government launched Operation Warp Speed (OWS) in May 2020. This public-private partnership includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and the Department of Defense (DoD). As pharmaceutical companies raced to develop a vaccine, Baptist Health Center for Clinical Research played a role. In mid-July, the Center announced a latestage, Phase 3 study on a potential COVID-19 vaccine and began to recruit volunteers. The Center announced on December 3, 2020, that it was selected as one of the first two sites in the U.S. to study a novel COVID-19 prevention agent using two monoclonal antibodies instead of a vaccine. On December 11, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which allowed it to be distributed in the U.S. Three days later, Governor Hutchinson tweeted: “At 8:10am Gilbreath Conference Center before, during, and after conversion to accommodate additional patients. today the State of Arkansas received our first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine. I expect additional shipments to be received today, all for our health care workers.”

develop a vaccine, Baptist Health Center for Clinical Research played a role. In midJuly, the Center announced a latestage, Phase 3 study on a potential COVID19 vaccine and began to recruit volunteers. The Center announced on December 3, 2020, that it was selected as one of the first two sites in the U.S. to study a novel COVID19 prevention agent using two monoclonal antibodies instead of a vaccine.


Baptist Health received its first shipment the next day and began vaccinating its staff members. As more doses arrived, people age 70 and over, teachers, and law enforcement agents began to be vaccinated. By the end of January 2021, Baptist Health had administered more than 22,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

By the end of January 2021, Baptist Health had administered more than 22,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Senior citizens were among the first groups to receive the vaccine. In this photo, Augusta Jansen, a 105-year-old Sherwood woman, received her vaccination in January 2021.

Baptist Health used social media to keep the public updated on the progress of the vaccine program and to educate on the vaccines’ effectiveness.


Even as this book is


going to press, the

Even as the vaccination program began, the number of positive cases continued to rise. On January 1, 2021, the number of new cases in Arkansas exceeded 4,000 for the first time. Also, Memories experts reported a new, “My journey with Baptist Health began in January 2020. more contagious strain I have since then been given quality care, compassion emerging, and forecasts and above all the best doctors and nurses that God has suggested it would take blessed me with. In July 2020, I underwent major open heart surgery. I stayed in ICU for almost two weeks. In many more months to this time, even when I was released to the floor I was vaccinate enough people so impressed with the care I received. The nurses and doctors made sure that I was taken care of and that all to effectively end the my questions were answered. After I was released to pandemic. go home and came back a few weeks later and had to After a few months of go back in for another surgery the care I received was awesome. optimism and gradually “Both times those at Baptist Health made sure I was getloosening restrictions, the ting the care I needed. Even those who came in to new strain—the highlydeliver my meals and those who cleaned my room contagious Delta varimade sure to ask how I was, if I needed anything or how my day was. With going through two surgeries in two ant—swept into the months with no one to sit with me during my recovery state, and the number of because of Covid the nurses, doctors and staff made me comfortable. Thank you Baptist Health for the care active cases quickly rose you gave me.” to record-breaking levels —Jennifer Foster, patient during the summer. Even as this book is going to press, the experts predict that COVID-19 will continue to strain the health care system for the foreseeable future. Troy Wells knows that no matter what happens, Baptist Health’s founding mission will see the system through this crisis just as it kept the system on track through every crises during the past 100 years. He points out, “There have been times where you stop and say, ‘As bad as this is, as hard as this is to figure out—all these different problems and challenges that come with this pandemic. This is why we got into health care.”

experts predict that COVID-19 will continue to strain the health care system for the foreseeable future. Troy Wells knows that no matter what happens, Baptist Health’s founding mission will see the system through this crisis just as it kept the system on track through every crises during the past 100 years.


First and foremost, I want to thank the


women of the hospital Auxiliary for every minute they spent

First and foremost, I want to thank the women of the hospital Auxiliary for

pasting newspaper

every minute they spent pasting newspaper clippings, photographs, and other materials into scrapbooks. You made my work so much easier and captured many things that otherwise would have been lost. Next, I have to thank the entire staff of the Baptist Health Marketing & Communications department for welcoming me and letting me be part of their family while I researched the book. Special thanks to Zack Marsh for recording the interviews for posterity and scanning photographs and other material for the book; Matt Dishongh and Erin Fletcher for pointing me in the right direction for finding materials and resources; and Margot Vogel, Cara Wade, Brandon Riddle, and Cindy Lewis for giving me so much support and every resource I needed.

clippings, photographs, and other materials into scrapbooks. You made my work so much easier and captured many things that otherwise would have been lost.

Mabel Hamm, historian for the Women’s Auxiliary, holding the award-winning 1975-1976 scrapbook


The vast majority of the information for this project came from Board minutes, Baptist Health newsletters (in all their permutations), and scrapbooks kept by the hospital Auxiliary.

Other people in the system gave me access to a wealth of information: Melisa Gardner, Pat Oakley, and Carol Tharel in the Baptist Health administration offices, who helped me track down minutes and records for the system; Bradi Cozart in facility management, who knows all the secret storage places around the hospital; and Rose Wilshire at the Health College archives. Many people shared their knowledge and memories during interviews and made the narrative so much richer. Thank you: Jerry Baugh; Teresa Conner; Cathy Dickinson; Betty Dunn; Bill Freeman; Corinne Gilbreath; Cyndi Gregory; Russ Harrington; Judy Henry; Sandra Juniel; Lyndell Lay; Virgil Miller; James Pappas, MD; Linda Parker; John Ransom, MD; Norman Roberts; Bob Searcy, MD; Georgia Seward; Art Squire, MD; Lynn Weaks; Doug Weeks; Troy Wells; and Carol and Tonny Yeung. The vast majority of the information for this project came from Board minutes, Baptist Health newsletters (in all their permutations), and scrapbooks kept by the hospital Auxiliary. I also used the records of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, which are housed at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia and materials housed at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in the Roberts Library at the Central Arkansas Library System. Thank you Lisa Speer (Ouachita Baptist University Archives and Special Collections) and Brian Robertson (Butler Center for Arkansas Studies) for making these materials available. Nathania Sawyer



Copyright © 2022 by Baptist Health. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, except for brief passages quoted within reviews, without the express written permission of Baptist Health.

Text: Nathania Sawyer Dustjacket design: Erin Fletcher Book design: H. K. Stewart

Printed in the United States of America This book is printed on archival-quality paper that meets requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences, Permanence of Paper, Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984. 64

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