Arkansas Medical News November/December 2021

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November/December 2021 >> $5 December 2009 ON ROUNDS

Jennifer Gess, PhD, Guides Memory Preservation After Neurosurgery UAMS Neuropsychologist subspecializes in epilepsy and evaluating brain surgery risks. Even as a child growing up in Signal Mountain, Tenn., Jennifer Gess, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist who is also an associate professor of psychiatry at the University for Arkansas for Medical Jennifer Gess Sciences (UAMS), was fascinated with the biology of human behavior. Profile on page 3

Tivity Health Takes Meaningful Steps to Keep Seniors Engaged, Connected Actively aging happens to us all with each passing day, month and year. Article on page 5

Visit our Grand Rounds section starting on page 6 for news all around Arkansas.



Arkansas Nurse Practitioners Moving Toward Independence

NPs soon eligible for Independent Practice under Arkansas Act 412 By MELANIE KILGORE-HILL

Nurse practitioners are critical in today’s healthcare landscape, filling gaps created by a nationwide physician shortage and global pandemic. Today, the state’s 4,000-plus nursing professionals are one step closer to independent practice thanks to Act 412, which can Wes Ward grant full practice authority to certified nurse practitioners. In 2022, the bill will eliminate the need for a physician collaboration agreement among eligible practitioners.

Moving forward

“Nurse practitioners in Arkansas have been working toward this for a long time,” said Wes Ward, APN, an Arkansas Nurse Practi-

Neal Reeves

Jeannie Finley

tioner Association education committee member and family nurse practitioner in Greenbrier, Arkansas. Until Act 412, Arkansas had been among 15 reduced practice states, requiring a career-long regulated collaborative agreement with a physician in order to provide patient care. In 2022, Arkansas will join the 24 states that allow (CONTINUED ON PAGE 4)


Open the (Digital) Door

It will be many years before we determine the long-lasting impacts of the pandemic on medical practices, but there is one effect that is already crystal clear – patients’ expectations for a digital front door to their physicians. The migration to a digital interface for your patients need not be frightening, as it can be accomplished without significant investment. There are third party vendors that can handle the function for you, for a price. Alternatively, you can set up a basic interface

to allow your patients to request an appointment online, but then manually process it on the back end by keying it into your scheduling system. To your patients, this looks like a digital front door, but it can easily be merged into your current workflow. Of course, there are advanced options as well, with many vendors ready to serve the market. To get a sense of the options, reach out to your EHR vendor to seek their advice – or do a quick Web search using key words like “patient selfscheduling.” As technology evolves, it’s important to recognize that you’re (CONTINUED ON PAGE 4)


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Jennifer Gess, PhD, Guides Memory Preservation After Neurosurgery

UAMS Neuropsychologist subspecializes in epilepsy and evaluating brain surgery risks. Even as a child growing up in Signal Mountain, Tenn., Jennifer Gess, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist who is also an associate professor of psychiatry at the University for Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), was fascinated with the biology of human behavior. What makes us tick? How does human memory work? How does the brain dictate behavior? “What makes the cognitive abilities and behavior of different individuals distinct is just fascinating to me,” Gess said. “There has been a lot of development and movement in learning about human memory including how people learn new information, how they hold on to it, how they retrieve it, and all the things that can go wrong. The nuances to memory help us better understand the disorders that exist that impair memory such as dementia.” There are a couple different reasons patients seek help from the UAMS specialist. One, they have a known injury or condition that has affected the brain. “We are asked to determine how that has affected someone’s ability to learn, pay attention, reason, and use language,” she said. “We use that information to help guide their decisions about living independently, going back to work, and rehabilitation. “The second type of referral is for

people who are worried about changes in their memory. It is scary because it is different from when you were younger. But changes can be a normal result of aging, and not a sign of dementia.” Some people may be concerned they are at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease because of a family history of the disease. But she assures them that while that can be a factor, it doesn’t mean the patient will get Alzheimer’s – which is just one of many types of dementia. The third type of referral is for someone who is preparing for neurosurgery, and the neuropsychologist helps assess risks to provide insight into whether the patient should go forward with a particular type of surgery. Gess has subspecialties in epilepsy and evaluating risks before brain surgery. She helps assess the risks before surgeries such as focal resection or device implantation to manage epilepsy or movement disorders. Gess loves meeting every patient. Each one comes in with a different history. Everyone is unique and different. “We want to make sure before they go to surgery that we have an understanding of what we can do to preserve memory,” Gess said. “If you have a certain kind of surgery, what are the risks of having a significant change in your memory or language? We access cognition broadly. There are different surgical options for folks we consider at serious risk. We work closely with the neurologist and surgeon ©UAMS/BRYAN CLIFTON


Jennifer Gess

people who are noticing changes in cognition. The most typical one is an older person coming in whose memory is declining. Then we evaluate and consider what is possibly causing this condition.” It is often frightening just to visit a neuropsychologist for an evaluation. But, for some people, it can be reassuring. “Sometimes regarding memory testing, people are just where they should be considering their age,” she said. “In that case, we can allay the concerns of

to help them choose the most effective and safe surgery.” Gess is also director of psychology training at UAMS. She directs training programs for anyone earning a doctoral degree in psychology or neuropsychology. “I get to work with these amazing students and that keeps my learning fresh,” Gess said. “You learn by teaching. And they teach me. They are just out of grad school, so we learn together if there is something new.” Gess initially earned a BA and MA in biomedical ethics from the University of Virginia where she had an internship on a neurology unit at the National Institutes of Health. The field was pretty new at that point. She had never heard of it. “I followed a neuropsychologist around and was fascinated,” Gess said. “I was very interested in the brain, but also human behavior, so neuropsychology was the perfect marriage of those two interests. I ended up switching careers. I went to Georgia State University where I received an MA and PhD in clinical neuropsychology.” Gess completed a clinical internship in neuropsychology at the University of Arizona and neuropsychology fellowship at Emory University in Atlanta where she also accepted her first faculty position. Tiring of a commute in Atlanta that could eat up three hours a day, she and her husband, Dr. Peter Gess, launched a nationwide search for new jobs and a new home. “We didn’t know anything about Little Rock, but we had heard nice things, came over to interview and absolutely fell in love,” Gess said. “My husband was hired at Hendrix College and I joined UAMS. It was pretty easy to attract us here because of how livable the city is, and the reasonable cost of living.” (CONTINUED ON PAGE 4)

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Arkansas Nurse Practitioners - Moving Toward Independence, continued from page 1 full practice, permitting NPs to evaluate patients, diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and initiate and manage treatments, including prescribing medications and controlled substances, under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing. The full practice model will be a game changer for patients, particularly those in rural communities.

Meeting a need

Under the new Act, nurses will need about three years, or 6,240 hours, of practice under a collaborative agreement with a physician in order to earn the right to practice independently, and have their licenses renewed every three years. The law also allows them to “receive and prescribe drugs, medications and therapeutic devices.” Ward, who estimates 2,500 of the state’s 4,000 NPs will be eligible to apply for independent practice, was among a trio of providers who led a panel called “Opening Your Own Practice” at the annual Arkansas Nurse Practitioner Association conference in October. He said the three-year requirement will help nurses get their feet wet in the clinical setting before tackling the business side of practice management. “They need to learn the business end of the business,” he said. “There are principles that govern running a successful practice, and we don’t take business courses in nursing school.”

Rural health

While Act 412 won’t affect day-to-day operations, Ward anticipates it will bring more care to underserved communities. “What you’ll see is more nurse practitioners opening clinics in rural areas,” he said, noting providers who’ve been forced to close if a collaborative physician retires, passes away or relocates. “By definition, a rural location may be 40 miles from the closest physician. When you remove that barrier, providers can go into rural areas without being tethered to a physician.” Neal Reeves, MBA, DNP, RN-BC, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Nursing, presented alongside Ward, addressing the state shortage of general practitioners. “As we get further out in rural communities it gets even worse,” he said. “There are often nurse practitioners already living in these communities, so there’s an opportunity to really improve access to care.” Jeannie Finley, APN, founding member of ANPA and Ozark Wellness Clinic founder and owner, is doing just that. “The focus of medicine has really changed over the last 25 years, but access to physician colleagues is imperative,” she said. “Companies have put demands on physicians that don’t allow many to be in private practice anymore, so nurse practitioners are stepping up to the plate. As APRNs we’re striving for a cohesive health care team, and have fewer and fewer providers these days.” Finley’s patients are primarily older adults,

many with chronic diseases and few options in rural Ozark. “They have to have access to care,” she stressed. “Physicians are so thinly spread today, but I was born and raised here, so it’s not a stretch for me to practice here and care for the people I love and grew up with.”

Advocating for patients

Finley, who participated in the ANPA panel, also noted that the absence of a collaborative physician doesn’t override federal laws, and that NPs will still need a consulting physician in some situations. “If you have diabetes, I can’t get you a pair of diabetic shoes because Medicare doesn’t allow us to sign for that,” she explained. “I’ll always have to have a consulting physician for federal regulations, but thankfully our state is so much more progressive than the federal level. Arkansas has cutting edge thinkers who want people here to have the best.” According to a release issued by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office, the General Assembly passed several laws this year that expand the services that nurses can offer: Act 569 allows Advance Practice Registered Nurses to serve as a primary care provider in the Medicaid Program without a physician agreement. Act 412 creates the Full Independent Practice Credentialing Committee; Act 449 allows a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist to work in consultation with licensed physicians, dentists, and oth-

ers who are licensed to order anesthesia; and Act 607 grants full practice authority to Certified Nurse Midwives, which allows them to evaluate patients, diagnose medical conditions, and order diagnostic tests, and initiate and manage treatment and care plans; and Act 651 of 2021 mandates that when a physician prescribes opioids, the physician must also prescribe naloxone, a drug that can quickly reverse the effects of an overdose.

Looking ahead

“We’ve worked very hard over the last few years to let patients know what nurse practitioners are and what we do,” said Finley. At UAMS, Reeves recently led a digital health class, teaching NP students about legal and ethical aspects of telehealth. “Change in laws due to the pandemic have been very beneficial,” he said, noting increased telehealth reimbursement rates since the start of COVID-19. “I’m looking forward to seeing what transpires in the next few years. The early stages are very critical to how quickly things will change.” Ward is optimistic, and said he feels like the majority of physicians also are supportive of Act 412. “Physicians have more experience as an entity and have been around longer and working in rural areas,” he said. “We know nurse practitioners won’t be able to fill all the gaps, because the entire healthcare machine is more complicated than that. But the shortage areas will definitely start diminishing.”

Your Digital Front Door, continued from page 1 not going to hear patients asking for this function – it’s an expectation. When you log onto Amazon to order a product or when you do an online search for a restaurant your friend told you about, and you can’t find what you’re looking for, you don’t report your frustration – you just move on to the next option. That’s exactly what’s happening in health care right now; by making a small investment in some digital entry points for your patients, you can make sure they have the access they expect. Plus, you’ll enjoy some direct benefits – opening a digital front door results in fewer incoming phone calls and more patient arrivals (as

self-scheduling is associated with a reduction in no-shows).

Virtual Care Assistant

If you determine that virtual care will be a permanent component of your medical practice, it’s essential to have the resources to execute the workflow effectively. This includes a staff member(s) who can support the effort. Preparing for virtual visits, conducting patient outreach, providing support during care transitions, interpreting test data from mobile health devices, and other related tasks expands the work scope of traditional staffing models. Although some

practices have attempted to assign current staff the additional responsibilities of remote care, others have created a staffing model that is separate and distinct from the traditional face-to-face visit, with one person (or team) dedicated to remote care and another to in-person care. The virtual care assistant may be a permanent position – or may be rotated between medical assistants. The latter is a terrific way to boost staff morale as the role can be performed from home. Regardless of how the responsibilities are structured, the key is to ensure that there is a proactive approach to understanding what tasks are involved

with virtual care – and who’s going to do them. Otherwise, the virtual care tasks get swept aside as the in-person care is prioritized. This leads to challenges that may have implications for patient quality and safety. Take the opportunity now to define and design a virtual care assistant. The contents of The Sentinel are intended for educational/informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Policyholders are urged to consult with their personal attorney for legal advice, as specific legal requirements may vary from state to state and/or change over time. Reprinted with permission; June 2020 Sentinel. All rights reserved. ©SVMIC


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Her husband is associate provost at Hendrix where he is also associate professor in the Department of Politics. She loves UAMS and the people she works with. Being at a smaller academic medical center, Gess has found there is much more collaboration. “It makes it such a fun place to work because I’m working with people as energized as I am in a state with need for innovation and new medical programs,” Gess said. “UAMS has an incredibly gifted group of clinicians. I feel I can make a more significant difference than I might at a larger institution where you are more like a cog in the wheel. And it is so nice not to think about traffic.” Gess has been board certified by

the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology since 2009 and serves on the American Psychological Association’s national education committee for training in neuropsychology. Because of her roots growing up on a mountain in Tennessee, she is most at home when in the woods. “We have a small place near Mountain View that is my happy place,” she said. “My husband and I enjoy hiking and backpacking when we can, in addition to spending time with our two children and two dogs. Our son, Simon, is in the 11th grade, and our daughter, Madeleine, is a freshman at Louisiana State University in the pre-veterinary medicine programs.” arkansasmedicalnews


Tivity Health Takes Meaningful Steps to Keep Seniors Engaged, Connected By CINDY SANDERS

Actively aging happens to us all with each passing day, month and year. Aging actively is an entirely different proposition. It’s a dedication to the latter that drives Tivity Health to connect nearly 75 million eligible members nationwide to programming that supports living longer by living well. Richard Ashworth, PharmD, MBA, joined Tivity Health in June 2020 as president, chief executive officer and a member of the company’s board of directors. Although fairly new to Tivity Health, Ashworth spent nearly 30 years with Walgreens, beginning on the front lines as a pharmacist. “Whenever you spend a lot of your time Richard Ashworth at the eyeball level with clients, it starts to give you a real appreciation of the human impact your company decisions make,” he said of that invaluable early experience. “As a pharmacist, I spent the majority of my career helping people when they were sick. Quite a bit of what I saw was people not living their lives in a way they could or should,” he explained. “I wanted to try to get in front of that to help people before they need medications,” Ashworth added

of the critical importance an active lifestyle and social engagement play on health and well-being. Tivity Health has three core brands focused on that mission. Prime® Fitness connects employees to approximately 12,000 fitness facilities across the country to support a commitment to regular exercise. WholeHealth Living® is a managed network of chiropractic, physical therapy, therapeutic massage, acupuncture and complementary alternative medicine providers to reduce pain. Perhaps the most famous, SilverSneakers® has become the country’s premier community fitness program for older adults.

More than Movement

About 18 million seniors are eligible for SilverSneakers, which utilizes more than 15,000 facilities across the country for interactive classes. “Moving is such an important component of longevity and living well,” noted Ashworth. “We want people to live the last third of their lives in the best shape they’ve ever been in.” However, he’s quick to add the program is about so much more than movement. The classes also provide participants with social connection and engagement. “It’s a very simple program, but I think a very powerful one,” Ashworth stated. “I love that our program is not only fun and accessible but that it actually works,”

he continued. Ashworth pointed to a recent independent study by Avalere Health that found participating in SilverSneakers reduced healthcare costs by 16 percent. He noted the average out-of-pocket Medicare cost for individuals is about $5,300 per year. Participants in the Tivity program saw that average drop to $4,460.

Pandemic Pivot

During the early days of the pandemic with so much fear and uncertainty, the company recognized a need to keep seniors moving and find an outlet with some sense of normalcy and engagement. “We knew the business model was going to have some pressure. A lot of gyms were temporarily closed,” said Ashworth. The result was to create virtual programming. The fun, interactive classes not only answered a need for loyal SilverSneakers participants they also opened the door to a much larger audience. “We’re seeing a lot of new people engaging in physical activity now who historically have not,” noted Ashworth, adding digital engagement has doubled participation. Although most gyms are now reopened, he said company research has shown 84 percent of people using the digital product will continue to do so even after adding in-person classes back into the mix.

“We’ve given people an opportunity to maximize fitness on their own terms.” In addition to convenience, Ashworth adds the classes are interactive and engaging. “I do these workouts online with our trainers, and they’re a ton of fun,” he says with a laugh. “There’s an inherent social element to that.” Building off this digital success, Tivity is rolling out SilverSneakers Connect at the beginning of 2022. “We are launching a national social platform that has nothing to do with fitness but is all about connecting people with similar interests,” he explained. The pandemic underscored the importance of human connection to an overall sense of well-being. Ashworth said Tivity conducts an ongoing healthy living survey for older adults. “Just last week, we did a survey and asked about COVID isolation … 39 percent of seniors had experienced social isolation in the last week,” he stressed of findings more than 18 months into the pandemic. Building off a successful pilot program, Ashworth said reaction to the new platform has been incredibly positive. Finding someone who shares your enthusiasm for college sports, swapping recipes or discussing books provides a reason to get up and get engaged each morning. And that, he pointed out, is key to living well longer.

Keeping Cognitively Fit, Too Tivity Health® will offer GetSetUp, a virtual learning platform designed specifically for seniors to provide mental enrichment activities, to SilverSneakers® members in participating Medicare Advantage plans starting in January of 2022. The strategic relationship with GetSetUp will expand opportunities for SilverSneakers members to learn new skills, combat social isolation and unlock new life experiences. Tivity Health has been granted the exclusive right to offer GetSetUp to Medicare Advantage plans and their members. SilverSneakers members in participating plans will have unlimited access to the platform at no additional cost to the member. GetSetUp is a live, secure, interactive platform developed to support mental enrichment and cognitive health in older adults. It not only features instructors but also enables seniors to become instructors to share their skills and knowledge with their peers. GetSetUp offers a wide range of classes (over 2,000 hours/week), through a senior-specific video platform optimized for ease of activation, user engagement and social connection. “At Tivity Health, we’ve always believed that fitness means more than just physical activity – it is also important to stay mentally, intellectually and socially engaged,” said Richard Ashworth, president and CEO, Tivity Health. “GetSetUp is the perfect solution to provide engaging, relevant content and an accessible platform designed specifically for seniors. This solution, along with our social engagement program, SilverSneakers Connect, are the most recent additions to our engagement platform, expanding beyond our industry-leading senior fitness options to provide a more holistic approach to healthy aging.” Eighty-seven percent of people 65 and over experience cognitive changes associated with normal aging. Physical activity is proven to improve cognitive function as people age through neuroplasticity, which allows the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust in response to new situations. Lifelong learning and mental enrichment are increasingly viewed as a protective strategy against commonly observed cognitive decline in the older population. “Mental enrichment activities increase our enjoyment of life through the stimulation of learning and connecting with others, and they are also important to maintain brain health,” said Kelly O’Brien, executive director, Brain Health Partnership for UsAgainstAlzheimers. “Research is increasingly pointing to the importance of strengthening brain health, maintaining cognitive function, and delaying or preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Providing seniors with opportunities to engage their brains is an important part of healthy aging.”



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GrandRounds Dr. Patrick Paullus Joins CHI St. Vincent Neurosurgery Clinic in Hot Springs HOT SPRINGS — Dr. Patrick Paullus has joined the team of neurosurgeons at the CHI St. Vincent Neurosurgery Clinic in Hot Springs, which provides the most advanced care to patients with diseases of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves or muscles. The clinic is part of the largest multi-specialty group serving the Hot Springs and Southwest Patrick Paullus Arkansas region. The team specializes in spine surgery and brain surgery and also offers extensive help with aneurysm and stroke and an array of other conditions. Dr. Paullus attended medical school at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He completed his residency in neurosurgery at Louisiana State University Health Science Center in Shreveport and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The CHI St. Vincent Neurosurgery Clinic is part of the CHI St. Vincent Medical Group, a multi-specialty network that connects primary care doctors with their colleagues in surgery, cardiology and many other medical fields. Dr. Paullus is now seeing patients at the CHI St. Vincent Neurosurgery Clinic located at 1 Mercy Lane, Suite 502 in Hot Springs.

Dr. Varela Performs First Total Wrist Replacement in Arkansas MOUNTAIN VIEW — Gary Paxson, President & CEO of White River Health System (WRHS), is proud to announce the first total wrist replacement at Stone County Medical Center (SCMC). This is also the first total wrist replacement surgery using the latest state of the art prosthesis Charles D. performed in ArkanVarela sas. The surgery was performed by Dr. Charles D. Varela, Orthopaedic Surgeon at White River Orthopaedic Sports and Hand Surgery Clinic in Mountain View. Total wrist replacement surgery, also known as total wrist arthroplasty, is used to treat patients with unbearablepain and disability due to rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. The procedure involves replacing the wrist joint with an artificial joint to relieve pain and restore function and is used when other treatment options are no longer effective. Total wrist replacements in the past have been fraught with complications and failures due to the unique characteristics of the wrist joint anatomy. This new prosthesis has shown potential to significantly reduce the patient’s pain and preserve motion while reducing complications. This is a major advance-




ment in the area of hand surgery. Dr. Varela is a board-certified Orthopaedic Surgeon with added certification in surgery of the hand. Dr. Varela’s areas of expertise include hand surgery, knee injuries, joint replacement, trauma surgery, and foot surgery. He has been in practice in Mountain View as an Orthopaedic and Hand Surgeon for more than 25 years serving north central Arkansas. Dr. Varela received his Medical Degree from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. He completed his residency at the University of Missouri. He completed a fellowship in Hand, Microsurgery, and Upper Extremity Surgery from Duke University Medical Center. The White River Orthopaedic Sports and Hand Surgery Clinic is located at 2110 East Main Street in Mountain View.

UAMS Celebrates Completion of New, $50 Million Electrical Power Plant at Little Rock Campus LITTLE ROCK —The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) today celebrated the completion of a new $50 million electrical power plant on the east side of its Little Rock campus. The plant is a key component of a $150 million energy project that is expected to be finished in late 2022 and result in an estimated $4.8 million in annual savings. The project is being paid for by a bond issue approved in 2019 by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees. Standing behind the ribbon as it was cut were Board of Trustees members; local dignitaries; UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA; and UAMS officials involved in the planning and oversight of the project. In addition to constructing the new power plant, the energy project includes the replacement of the Barton Building exterior and infrastructure as well as an upgrade to campus building control systems, interior and exterior lighting, electrical and mechanical systems. The new electrical generator plant will provide 100% back-up power for the UAMS campus, including the cooling system and research facilities. Currently, the UAMS West Central Energy Plant provides backup power for UAMS inpatient facilities. The overall energy project is enabling UAMS to address $101 million in maintenance needs and energy efficiency measures. Once completed, UAMS’ energy efficiency ranking will be in the top 1% of all academic medical centers in the United States. The project also included the rerouting and expansion of Pine Street and the ultimate partial closure of Cedar Street in spring 2022. Much of the new street work is done. The city of Little Rock contributed $4.6 million to the

projected $10 million cost of relocation and other street improvements. The team that has worked for the power plant project for the last two years consists of Bernhard, CDI, Clark Contractors, Kirchner Architecture and Clear Energy — all Arkansas companies.

Arkansas Urology Announces Plans for Advanced Imaging Center LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Urology, the state’s largest and most innovative urology practice, has announced plans to open an advanced imaging center at its Little Rock clinic location. The center, which will include a state-of-the-art Positron Emission Tomography – Computed Tomography (PET/CT) scanner, as well as an advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner, will allow Arkansas Urology to more effectively and efficiently treat patients. Arkansas Urology will also be offering a new targeted PET imaging agent to detect the presence or absence of metastatic prostate cancer. This targeted PSMA (Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen) called the Pylarify diagnostic tool is just another advancement that Arkansas Urology is bringing to the state of Arkansas. Arkansas Urology provides diagnosis and treatment for prostate cancer more than any healthcare provider in the state. Additionally, Arkansas Urology’s North Little Rock clinic will be receiving a newer cutting-edge Computer Tomography (CT) scanner which will allow Arkansas Urology to see an increased number of patients at its North Little Rock clinic. PET/CT scans will be available for Arkansas Urology patients beginning in November, and MRI scans later this year. This investment in new technology and facilities is approximately $6,000,000.

Baptist Health First in State to Use New Device for Treating Brain Aneurysms LITTLE ROCK – Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock recently became the first hospital in Arkansas to use a new device to treat brain aneurysms. The Pipeline Flex Embolization Device with Shield Technology diverts blood flow away from a brain aneurysm and reconstructs the diseased section of the parent vessel. It is the first commercially available flow diverter and features a braided cylindrical mesh tube that is implanted across the base, or neck, of the aneurysm. Brain aneurysms are weak or thin spots on a blood vessel in the brain that balloon out and fill with blood. A bulging aneurysm can put pressure on a nerve or surrounding brain tissue. In rare circumstances, the aneurysm can leak causing subarachnoid hemorrhage. The more traditional treatment for an unruptured aneurysm involves insert-

ing a flow-diverting stent; however, this can potentially result in blood clotting, which can lead to complications like stroke. The new Pipeline Flex Embolization Device with Shield Technology offered at Baptist Health Medical CenterLittle Rock is coated with a substance that in pre-clinical studies has been shown to reduce the risk of clot formation. An estimated 500,000 people throughout the world die each year due to ruptured brain aneurysms, with half the victims younger than 50 years of age. As the most studied flow diverter worldwide, Pipeline Embolization Device has been used to treat patients in the United States since 2011 and is now available with Shield Technology. To learn more about the innovative Pipeline Flex Embolization Device and neuroendovascular services, call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST or visit

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GrandRounds Arkansas Spine and Pain Adds Two New Physicians LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Spine and Pain is pleased to announce we have added two new physicians. Dr. John Brown is a Family Medicine specialist in Little Rock. He graduated with honors from the University of North Texas HSC, College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1995. Having more than 26 years of diverse experiences, especially in family John Brown medicine, Dr. Brown affiliates with many hospitals including Houston Medical Center, Navicent Health, Medical Center Of Peach County, Navicent Health and cooperates with other doctors and specialists in medical group Houston Primary Care Inc. Dr. Richard H Stephens is an Anesthesiology specialist in Little Rock. He graduated with honors from the University of Arkansas College of Medicine in 2015. Having more than 6 years of diverse experiences, especially in anesthesiology, Dr. Stephens Richard H affiliates with Arkansas Stephens Heart Hospital, cooperates with other doctors and specialists in medical group Arkansas Anesthesia Associates. Both doctors will bring their expertise to this new role as Pain Treatment specialists. For either doctor call (501) 227-0184 for more information and advice or to book an appointment.

St. Bernards Launches 24/7 Behavioral Health Informational Call Center JONESBORO – St. Bernards Behavioral Health (SBBH) announced the launch of its new 24/7 Call Center on Wednesday, aimed at providing informational resources for behavioral and mental health-related services and questions. The Call Center—staffed by licensed health professionals in confidential settings—will guide callers to available behavioral health resources. SBBH Assistant Vice President Kevin Byron made the announcement as part of National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month, saying this type of regional, around-the-clock service has not existed in Northeast Arkansas. Byron said the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of readily available mental health services. According to the most-recent data from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 20.3 percent of Arkansas adults reported a mental illness within the past year. SAMHSA also cites more than 5.5 percent of Arkansas arkansasmedicalnews


adults reporting a serious mental illness within the past year, including 4.7 percent experiencing serious thoughts of suicide. Each of these statistics rank above the national average. Byron said St. Bernards designed the Call Center to operate as a supplemental resource alongside crisis services and hotlines. The SBBH 24/7 Call Center is available immediately to assist with behavioral health questions at (870) 207-0440.

Mercy Fort Smith Adds Neurohospitalists, Expands Care for Hospitalized Patients FORT SMITH – Mercy Fort Smith has expanded the care it provides for patients suffering from a variety of neurological disorders, thanks to the addition of two new physicians. Dr. Jacob Didion and Dr. Sujan Reddy joined Mercy to help provide care every day of the year for patients who are hospitalized for treatment of neurological disorders. The Jacob Didion addition of the neurohospitalists at Mercy Fort Smith allows the hospital to care for more patients dealing with neurological issues, including: • stroke Sujan Reddy • seizures • headaches • multiple sclerosis • Guillain-Barré syndrome • myasthenia gravis autoimmune disorder Patients will benefit from this team’s expert levels of care and spend less time in the hospital, Geib continued. Providing expanded neurological care in the River Valley means patients can be treated closer to home, Dr. Reddy explained. Dr. Reddy completed a residency and stroke fellowship at the University of Texas at Houston, earned a master’s degree in public health at the UT School of Public Health in Houston and graduated from Mahatma Gandhi Mission’s Medical School in India. For Dr. Reddy, who joined Mercy in July 2020, the decision to focus on neurology came from an experience within his own family. Similarly, a growing number of patients in need of neurological care influenced Dr. Didion to enter the field. Dr. Didion joined Mercy in September 2021. Dr. Didion earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Lyon College and his doctorate from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

UAMS Adds Five Physicians to Department of Orthopaedic Surgery LITTLE ROCK — Five new physicians have joined the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, expanding the comprehensive, integrated network of orthopaedic and sports medicine care available at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s in both Central and Northwest Arkansas. The new physicians include: Jordan Gross, M.D., Adrienne Koder, D.O., Lauren Poindexter, M.D., Justin Rabinowitz, M.D., and Scott Schoenleber, M.D. All are fellowship-trained with faculty appointments in the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. They join the growing UAMS team of orthopaedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and other health care professionals located in central and northwest Arkansas providing comprehensive care for the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries affecting children and adults. This team is also the official orthopaedics and sports medicine provider for Razorback Athletics. Jordan Gross, M.D., is a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon specializing in complex deformities of the spine. He provides surgical and nonsurgical treatment for a wide variety of pediatric spinal conditions at Arkansas Children’s in Little Rock, while also providing specialized Jordan Gross care at Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale. Gross received his medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine and completed his orthopaedic surgery residency at New York Medical College. He recently completed an orthopaedic/ spine deformity fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles/University of Southern California. His concentrated training in spinal deformities has given him unique experience in treating scoliosis, congenital deformities and other complex spinal conditions. Adrienne Koder, D.O., a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, has joined Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale. Koder earned her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) College of OsteopathAdrienne Koder ic Medicine. She completed an orthopaedic surgery residency at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine followed by a pediatric orthopaedic fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center/New York Presbyterian. Koder has served as a team physician for high

school football and professional rugby. Lauren Poindexter, M.D., a primary care sports medicine physician, has joined the UAMS Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine practice in Fayetteville and Lowell. She also sees patients at Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale. Poindexter received Lauren her medical degree Poindexter from Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke, Virginia. She completed an internship in general surgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, followed by a residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at UAMS. She continued her training in a physical medicine & rehabilitation sports medicine fellowship at New York University. Poindexter has served as a team physician for St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, New York, and sideline physician for Parkview High School football in Little Rock and has extensive experience in athletic training and sports safety. Justin Rabinowitz, M.D., is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in disorders of the shoulder and elbow. He is seeing patients at UAMS’ Orthopaedic Clinic at 10815 Colonel Glenn Road in Little Rock and at the UAMS Baptist Health Orthopaedic Justin Clinic in Conway. RabiRabinowitz nowitz earned his medical degree from Rush University Medical College in Chicago and completed an orthopaedic surgery residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. He received his fellowship training in shoulder and elbow surgery at Washington University in St. Louis. Scott Schoenleber, M.D., is a board-certified pediatric orthopaedic surgeon specializing in limb lengthening and complex lower extremity deformity correction at Arkansas Children’s. He also provides care at Arkansas Children’s Northwest for lower Scott extremity deformitiesSchoenleber and neuromuscular disorders in the pediatric population. Schoenleber received his medical degree from the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, and completed an orthopaedic surgery residency at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital. He received his fellowship training in pediatric orthopedic surgery at Nemours/AI duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware. Prior to joining UAMS, Schoenleber practiced at the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.




GrandRounds Washington Regional and UAMS Partner for Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic FAYETTEVILLE — Washington Regional, in partnership with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), has opened the Washington Regional Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic. The clinic, located inside the Women and Infants Center on the Washington Regional campus in Fayetteville, brings the expertise of UAMS’ maternal fetal medicine specialists to patients in Northwest Arkansas. The Washington Regional Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic provides assessment, diagnosis, and management of high-risk pregnancies, including problems associated with multiple births, heart disease, gestational diabetes, physical and genetic fetal abnormalities, and other conditions. The clinic is staffed by four maternal fetal medicine physician specialists from UAMS and a local nurse practitioner: - Nafisa Dajani, MD - Dawn Hughes, MD Everett Magann, MD - Adam Sandlin, MD - Alissa Scherer, APRN. This collaboration provides Northwest Arkansas women with high-risk pregnancies access to the largest team of board-certified maternal fetal medicine specialists in the state according to Washington Regional President and CEO Larry Shackelford.

William J. Steinbach, M.D. Joins UAMS as Chair of Department of Pediatrics LITTLE ROCK — William J. Steinbach, M.D., will join the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) as chair of the Department of Pediatrics and associate dean for Child Health in the UAMS College of Medicine, as well as pediatrician-in-chief of Arkansas Children’s, efWilliam J. fective Jan. 15, 2022. Steinbach Steinbach succeeds Frederick “Rick” E. Barr, M.D., who in November assumed a new post as chief executive vice president and chief clinical and academic officer for Arkansas Children’s. Renee Bornemeier, M.D., a professor of pediatric cardiology, vice chair for faculty affairs in the Department of Pediatrics and assistant dean for faculty affairs in the College of Medicine, will continue to serve as interim chair of the department until Steinbach’s arrival. Steinbach is currently the Samuel L. Katz Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and a professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology as well as chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Since October, he has also been the interim chief of Duke’s Division of Pediatric Transplant and Cellular Therapy, and since March he has also been vice chair of research for the university’s Depart-

ment of Pediatrics. Steinbach founded the Duke Pediatric Immunocompromised Host Program, a multidisciplinary clinical care and research program supporting immunosuppressed children. His molecular, translational and clinical research focuses on the pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of invasive fungal infections and spans broader efforts with all infections in immunocompromised patients. His laboratory centers on the fungus Apergillus fumigatus, a leading killer in patients with lowered immune systems, and the development of novel antifungal drugs and diagnostic assays. He has multiple active basic, translational and clinical research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that he will bring to UAMS. Steinbach founded and directs the International Pediatric Fungal Network, a NIH-funded global consortium of 55 sites dedicated to investigating pediatric invasive fungal infections through multicenter cooperative studies. He also co-founded and co-chairs the biennial international Advances Against Aspergillosis conference. His wife, Susan Emmett, M.D., MPH, is an otolaryngologist and also an NIH-funded clinician-scientist.He has a daughter who just graduated from Duke University and will be in Ireland next year as a Mitchell Scholar before attending Harvard Law School, and a son who is a junior at Elon University in North Carolina. Originally from Wisconsin, Steinbach earned his Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 1994 from the University of Notre Dame and his medical degree in 1998 from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He completed a pediatrics residency at Stanford University before continuing his training with a pediatric infectious diseases fellowship funded by the NIH through the Pediatric Scientist Development Program at Duke. He joined the faculty at Duke in 2004 as an assistant professor.

Jefferson Regional Opens Mammography Center in White Hall WHITE HALL - Jefferson Regional held a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house in October for the new Breast Center in White Hall. The Breast Center is located on the first floor of the White Hall Health Complex, with designated parking and a private curbside entrance. Residents of White Hall can now receive mammograms close to home, relaxing in a spacious, comfortable waiting area while they enjoy amenities such as express registration, a coffee bar, and warm, plush robes when they are called for their exam. Jefferson Regional has also remodeled the original Breast Center, located in the Jefferson Professional Center in Pine Bluff.

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