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Hope & Healing

Patients Share Life-Changing Stories


winter 2008 4

Full of Possibilities


Launching a Satellite


A Good Hair Day

Six UAMS patients share their inspirational stories of hope and healing.

The state’s need for additional health care providers has prompted UAMS to begin plans for a northwest Arkansas campus.

Two College of Nursing faculty members donate their hair to benefit others.

in every issue 3

The Chancellor’s Corner


Healers Nurse’s career brings


Did You Know?


Builders Mental health resources have

a new home


Scholars Dual degree programs offer

advantages for students


Partners Entergy Arkansas CEO

shares his talents with UAMS

unexpected opportunities

Cover photo by Michael Pirnique.



Johnpaul Jones

On the cover: UAMS patient Karen Howlett at her horse stable near Conway.

page 9

chancellor’s corner

HOUSE•CALL winter 2008 editor Susan Van Dusen art director laurie Shell managing editor liz Caldwell creative director Keith Runkle writers liz Caldwell Jon Parham David Robinson Susan Van Dusen


photographer Johnpaul Jones editorial advisory board Kathy Alexander Jerry Atchley Anne Bynum Cindy Pugh Dale Ronnel Carla Spainhour Judy Snowden Becky Tucker chancellor Dr. I. Dodd Wilson vice chancellor of communications and marketing Pat Torvestad associate vice chancellor of communications and marketing leslie Taylor assistant vice chancellor of communications and marketing Tim Irby HouseCall is published quarterly by the UAMS Office of Communications and Marketing 4301 W. Markham St. #890, little Rock, AR 72205-7199 Phone: (501) 686-5686 Fax: (501) 686-6020

Visit us online at

UAMS or were brought here due to a medical crisis, each of these patients openly expresses gratitude for the compassionate care offered by UAMS’ staff. One of the stories we share is that of Ambra Jackson and her brother, Bryan Clay. Like thousands of other Americans, Ambra and Bryan live with multiple sclerosis, an illness for which there is not yet a cure. Yet these young people epitomize the strength and conviction that — with the help of their health care team — they can live life to the fullest. It is truly our hope for all Arkansans that through research and treatment, life can be not only extended but also enhanced. Many of our research programs, including the internationally recognized Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, make this goal a reality every day. Thanks to the dedication of the institute’s director, Dr. Bart Barlogie, and his fellow scientists, myeloma patients at UAMS have achieved a median survival rate of seven years. In 2001, the National Cancer Institute reported the national five-year survival rate for myeloma patients was only 34 percent. Other programs at UAMS are offering the same kind of hope for people facing a wide array of illnesses and medical conditions. I hope that you will share in our celebration of past successes and join us in recognizing the unlimited possibilities that the future of health care holds for us all.

Celebrating Success The vision of UAMS is in providing for a healthier Arkansas. An essential part of this vision lies in our patient care mission, as well as in educating our future health care providers. The quality of our patient care is closely linked to the quality of our education, research and outreach. As the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, UAMS is uniquely positioned to treat people with complex medical conditions, as well as those in need of basic primary care. Our doctors, nurses and other staff members are intensely dedicated to offering the finest, most technologically advanced treatments available. In this issue of HouseCall, we focus on patient success stories. There are countless stories we could have told, but the six patients we chose represent the broad scope of care available at UAMS. Whether they personally made the decision to receive treatment at

I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. Chancellor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences



Full of Possibilities Six UAMS Patients Share Their Stories of Hope and Healing

While no one would choose an illness or injury, the choice is often made for us. Complex and serious conditions require not only highly trained physicians, but also the latest technological advances and a compassionate care team that understands your specific needs. On the following pages are the stories of six Arkansans who arrived at UAMS facing extraordinary medical conditions. Some still face challenges, while others have beaten the odds. However, they all tell a similar story — that the care they received at UAMS made it possible for them to experience healing and wholeness. 4


Karen Howlett Conway

UAMS High-risk Pregnancy Program


When Karen Howlett counts her blessings, she starts with the three most dear: her daughter, her son and her vision. She wouldn’t have any of them, she said, without UAMS. Diagnosed with Marfan’s syndrome at age 5, Howlett’s parents knew she faced a life of challenges. Marfan’s syndrome is a genetic condition that affects the body’s connective tissue and can cause multiple medical conditions, including dislocated lenses and complications in pregnancy. Although her vision began to deteriorate at an early age, Howlett developed a love of horseback riding, competing in both barrel racing and pole bending events. “I knocked down a lot of poles because of my vision problems,” she said. As an adult, Howlett’s vision continued to decline, resulting in her sometimes resorting to wearing contact lenses and glasses at the same time. “Because my vision was so poor, I was afraid to stay alone overnight. I eventually had to stop driving, which was really difficult for a 34-year-old to accept,” she said. At the same time Howlett was struggling with her vision, she was advised not to have children due to possible heartrelated complications from Marfan’s. When Howlett became unexpectedly pregnant in 2000, she and her husband, Lew, sought the care of Dr. Paul Wendel, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist in the UAMS high-risk pregnancy program. UAMS is home to the only board-certified maternal-fetal specialists in Arkansas. Under Wendel’s care, Howlett successfully delivered her daughter, Jessica, who was followed two years later by the planned pregnancy of her brother, Justin. “Dr. Wendel believed in me and made sure I received the best possible care during my pregnancies. My children were my first two blessings,” Howlett said. Howlett’s third blessing came in the form of a visit to Dr. Nicola Kim at the UAMS Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute. Under the care of UAMS ophthalmologist Dr. Richard Harper since the early 1990s, Howlett was told in late 2006 that her eyes had reached the point that she eligible for a surgical procedure that could potentially improve her vision. Kim performed three procedures on Howlett — a laser treatment on her left eye and a lens implementation in both eyes — bringing her vision to a near perfect 20/25.


Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute

(Facing page) Karen and lew Howlett with son Justin and daughter Jessica. (Above) Thanks to her eye surgery, Howlett enjoys horseback riding again.

“The first time I looked at my children after my surgery, my heart melted. It was like seeing them for the first time,” she said. “I could see everything, even the specks of color in their eyes. A whole new world was opened up for me.” HOUSE • CALL


Frank Williams Little Rock

UAMS Department of Neurosurgery

Frank Williams is getting back to his normal activities following successful brain surgery.

On the morning of March 8, 2006, Frank Williams appeared to be the picture of good health. An avid golfer, Williams also enjoyed bicycling and weight lifting. And — at only 46 — he showed no signs of slowing down. However, that very same night, Williams’ life took an unexpected turn. While getting ready for bed, he experienced a seizure and lost consciousness. His wife, Rhonda, called 911, and what followed took their lives down a path they never imagined. “After they ran some tests, the doctor came in and told me that I had a brain tumor,” Williams said. The doctor informed him that while the tumor was probably benign, it was deeply embedded and definitely inoperable. He was prescribed seizure medication and discharged. Fortunately for Williams, a friend recommended that he get a second opinion from Dr. M. Gazi Yasargil, professor of neurosurgery at UAMS. Internationally recognized for his expertise in disorders of the brain and central nervous system, Yasargil was named Neurosurgeon of the Century in 1999. 6



After reviewing his condition, Yasargil told Williams exactly what he hoped to hear. “Dr. Yasargil said that he felt sure he could remove the tumor and that I could lead a normal life. It felt like a miracle to hear those words,” Williams said. Yasargil successfully removed the tumor on April 4, but in the process made the unexpected discovery that it was a moderate grade tumor that would require radiation and chemotherapy. Now, almost two years later, Williams is getting back to a normal routine and enjoying time with his friends and family. “I’m still taking it easy,” he said. “I don’t get to work or exercise the way I used to, but I’m just so happy to be here.” He hopes his experience will help others see the value of second opinions. “Don’t ever give up. If you’re not happy with a diagnosis or a prognosis, don’t stop until you’ve exhausted all of your options,” he said. “I can’t thank UAMS enough for giving me the chance to keep on living and loving my wife and kids.”


Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute


Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute

Bruce Bell is proof that a person’s life can change in an instant. While applying weather-proofing material to the ceiling of a building in Pine Bluff, Bell fell 20 feet, landing on his back. No one witnessed his fall, and it is estimated that it took his employees about 10 minutes to find him. “I wasn’t breathing, and my lips and hands were blue,” Bell said. He was taken to a local hospital, where doctors quickly determined he should be transported to UAMS — a move he believes saved his life. “I couldn’t have picked any better people to take care of me,” he said. Bell’s injuries included a broken neck and a dislocation of the base of his skull and cervical spine. A very low percentage of people survive such an injury, and those who do often experience severe brain damage as a result. Dr. T. Glenn Pait, director of the UAMS Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute and professor of neurosurgery and orthopaedic surgery, performed the delicate surgery to reattach Bell’s skull to his spine. “My condition was pretty grim,” Bell said. “I was so blessed to have Dr. Pait. He took excellent care of both me and my family.” Under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Kiser, now an associate professor in the UAMS Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Bell underwent inpatient physical and occupational therapy for about two months. Within six months he went from being unable to move to talking and walking with assistance. Nine years later, Bell’s favorite activity is spending time with his wife and three kids. He even hopes one day to run a 5K. “It was a complicated injury, but everyone always remained positive that I would recover,” he said. “You have to keep fighting.”



Bruce Bell

After a serious injury, Bruce Bell was taken to UAMS. It was a move that he believes saved his life.



Ambra Jackson Bryan Clay North Little Rock


UAMS Department of Neurology



Brother and sister Ambra Jackson and Bryan Clay share more than just the normal sibling bonds. They also share the challenges that come with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). Jackson first noticed a problem in 2001 when she began experiencing blurred and double vision, as well as numbness in her feet. “I didn’t really pay much attention to it, because it seemed to go back to normal,” said Jackson, who was 19 at the time. However, when Jackson’s blurred vision returned a few months later, it didn’t go away. An athlete at Philander Smith College, she had to quit the basketball team. Her eye doctor sent her for an MRI, which showed significant neurological damage. “When they told me I had MS, I didn’t even know what that was,” she said. “It was so unreal.” MS is a disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissue, resulting in a loss of muscle control, numbness, difficulty with balance and vision problems. For Ambra, MS progressed quickly, putting her in a wheelchair and forcing her to drop out of college. “I would fall because I would lose my balance and because my feet were numb,” she said. “The first time I saw Dr. Lee Archer I was in the wheelchair, and we didn’t know if I would walk again.” Archer, associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Siblings Bryan Clay and Ambra Jackson enjoy playing cards and spending time together. Neurology, started Ambra on chemotherapy and medication, and soon she surprised everyone by walking unassisted. with MS in 2004 and also is Archer’s patient. “We take it one step at a “The treatments I received at UAMS really turned me around,” said time,” said Clay, whose condition has stabilized thanks to regular infusion Ambra, who has since re-enrolled in college and hopes to become a treatments and medication. rehabilitation counselor to help other people experiencing similar Together, Jackson and Clay give credit to their mom and Archer for medical challenges. their unending support. “During the hard times, our mother has been our One of those people is Clay, her younger brother by four years. After strength when we are weak,” Clay said. “And Dr. Archer is the best. Of all experiencing headaches and problems with balance, Clay was diagnosed the doctors I’ve ever seen, he cares the most.” 8 8


Suzanne Holland Maumelle

Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute



Suzanne Holland hopes to use her cancer experience to help other women.

Suzanne Holland doesn’t shy away from a challenge. From riding mountain bikes to four wheelers, Holland enjoys every opportunity to test her limits. So when an ovarian cancer diagnosis sidelined her in January 2007, she was ready to face it head-on. “My prayer through this whole thing has been, ‘God, how did I get here, and what am I supposed to do with this?’” she said. A 26-year UAMS employee, Holland discovered a suspicious lump in her abdomen after falling on a tile floor. A series of tests revealed a mass on her left ovary. “I believe that the beginning of my miracle was when I fell. It helped me find the cancer very early,” she said. Holland got an appointment with Dr. Alexander Burnett, director of the UAMS Division of Gynecological Oncology, who performed surgery

in late March 2007 to remove a very aggressive and rare form of ovarian cancer. She can’t say enough to praise Burnett, his staff and the care she received. “I knew I had Dr. Burnett’s undivided attention, and I needed that. I felt like my medical team was right there with me 24/7,” she said. After six rounds of chemotherapy, Holland is now ready to resume her favorite outdoor pastimes. She’s also working with her daughter, Amy Lasseigne, to share the news that ovarian cancer can be beat. “I want to use this experience to help other women,” she said. Whether that includes speaking publicly about the disease or organizing efforts to support other cancer patients and survivors, Holland is open to whatever the future holds. “If we’re on the right path, we’ll see the fruits of our labor,” she said. HOUSE • CALL HOUSE • CALL

9 9



To MeeT The Need for More

healTh Care Providers, UaMs looks NorTh


r. Peter Kohler knows what UAMS needs to establish its planned satellite campus. “I tell everyone that all we need are three F’s and an A,” he said. By that he means faculty, facility, funding and accreditation. Kohler, UAMS’ vice chancellor for northwest Arkansas, is now spearheading the drive to have students on a UAMS campus in Fayetteville starting in 2010-2011. So far, his work has involved meeting with community groups, local health care providers and many others to see how UAMS can open a regional campus that would allow its Colleges of Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy, along with some of its allied health programs, to add more students. With more than 30 years in administration at academic health centers, you might think Kohler himself would be ready to enjoy retirement. Instead, after 18 years as president of Oregon Health & Science University, he opted to dive into the task of helping UAMS with its satellite campus plans. “I like the challenge, and this is an extremely important project,” Kohler said. “It is critical that we 10


expand the pipeline for producing more health care professionals.”

Quality Programs

The programs intended for the UAMS satellite campus anticipate between 250 and 300 students, including resident physicians, when full enrollment is reached. Arkansas, like the nation, is already facing shortages of nurses and other health care professionals. Those shortages are expected to grow in the next 10 to 20 years as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age and demand for health care rises with the growing elderly population. The student body would likely include third- and fourth-year medical and pharmacy students; students in graduate nursing programs; and students in the allied health programs of radiologic imaging sciences, diagnostic medical sonography, health information management, medical technology and respiratory care. UAMS is looking at the old Washington Regional Medical Center building as a home for the satellite campus and the existing Area Health Education Center (AHEC). That hospital will finish

moving to new facilities in mid 2008, Kohler said, at which time he hopes renovations could begin to create classrooms, labs and other campus needs. “For medical education, we need not just conference rooms but hospitals, medical clinics and pharmacies willing to host our students for real-world experience,” Kohler said.

Improving Access

Creation of a regional campus will require startup funds to cover facility renovation and administrative costs, along with continuing operational funding. UAMS anticipates using a combination of sources including the clinical sites, local, state and federal governments and philanthropy. UAMS also must weave its way through the varied requirements for all of the programs to inhabit the satellite. Each profession has its own


set of notification and accreditation requirements for programs. For its satellite campus, UAMS plans to expand its medical residency programs in five core areas: internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry and surgery, in addition to a family medicine program that already exists in the UAMS AHEC program. Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education approval would be necessary for each program before new residents could be accepted — which means separate requirements and timelines in each specialty. Ultimately, Kohler said, the benefits of a regional campus include improving access to health care in the region and increasing the number of new health care professionals practicing in Arkansas. “Most of the region’s hospitals have already signed on to host UAMS resident physicians.” he said. “We’re off to a good start.”

check it out Between 2007 and 2030, overall population in the FayettevilleSpringdale-Rogers area is expected to grow by 67 percent, compared to 24 percent growth in the little Rock area.

Coming Home When Dr. Peter Kohler arrived in Arkansas, he was already on familiar ground. Recently named the UAMS vice chancellor for northwest Arkansas, Kohler’s career includes nine years — from 19771986 — when he served as chairman of the UAMS Department of Internal Medicine. Two of his four children and four of his eight grandchildren also live in the state. At his retirement from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Kohler was one of the longest serving presidents at an academic medical center in the United States. A recent facilities expansion on the OHSU campus included the 335,000square-foot Peter O. Kohler Pavilion, with additional outpatient and


inpatient capacity.



A good Hair Day Two Faculty Members Donate Their Hair to Help Others




Dr. Claudia Barone donated eight inches of hair and colleague Kimberly Morton (inset) donated 12.


he cancer patient was young, and she was about to lose her distinctive red hair to chemotherapy. Dr. Claudia Barone happened to be talking to her at UAMS’ Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, and each remarked at the similarities in their hair color. “She said, ‘Have you ever thought about growing your hair out and donating it for wigs for people like me?’” recalled Barone, adding that the idea hadn’t occurred to her until then. “When I got back to my office, I decided then and there that I would commit to growing my hair,” said Barone, dean of the UAMS College of Nursing. That was two years ago. On Oct. 19, 2007, the day before the Komen Race for the Cure, Barone went to her salon. By happenstance, Barone was joined by Kimberly Morton, also a College of Nursing faculty member, who had grown her hair to donate. Barone hadn’t been aware of Morton’s plans until several weeks before when she expressed her amazement at Morton’s long hair. Because they both also happen to use the same salon and were close to making their donations, Barone suggested that the two do so the day before the Race for the Cure. After her hair was washed, dried and put in a ponytail, Barone asked the stylist for “one last look” at her waist-length hair before he shortened it to about her shoulder blades. “Yea!” she said when her stylist held up the eight-inch lock. The cut hair was bound with an elastic band at one end and put in a zipper-lock bag. Barone said her next stop was the post office, where she mailed it to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths, which makes realhair wigs for adult cancer patients. The wigs are sent to the American Cancer Society, which has wig banks across the country. Barone said she had included a letter with her hair asking Pantene that the wig made with her hair be sent to the UAMS Cancer Institute. Morton, director of academic administration and informatics in the college, donated 12 inches of her hair to Locks of Love, which provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children experiencing long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. Morton said she was inspired by a coworker who has donated her hair to Locks of Love.


check it out Find out more at and As many as six locks of hair are needed to make one wig.


Perfect Match Rowena Garcia’s Nursing Career has Opened Doors She Never Imagined



t could be said that Rowena Garcia was born with a love of helping people. Garcia entered the health care field as a bedside nurse and now supervises 85 employees, including 46 nurses, for UAMS Medical Center. In between, she served as a grant writer, an anesthesiology researcher, a pain management provider and an ICU nurse. A native of Manila, Garcia’s father ran a marble trading business and security agency, and her mother was a professor of dentistry. The family immigrated to Canada in the 1970s. In Canada, Garcia set her sights on an English degree, but her mother told her, “You really should try nursing. That’s where the future is,” Garcia said. Her mother was right on track. “Nursing opens so many doors for you,” said Garcia, an R.N. who has earned a diploma of nursing, a bachelor of science for professional nursing and an M.B.A. After graduating from St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario, with a two-year diploma in nursing, Garcia was recruited by Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Conn., where she spent two years as a bedside nurse. When she later interviewed for a research position in the Yale Department of Anesthesiology, Garcia was told she needed a bachelor’s degree. Dr. Sorin Brull saw her potential and hired her anyway. “At that point, he took me under his wing,” she said of the man who would be her mentor for 14 years as she learned to write grants and perform research to improve the delivery of anesthesia and pain management.

Rowena garcia was planning to earn an English degree when her mother guided her toward nursing.

It was an exciting time of being on the cutting edge of better quality pain management. Yale paid for her to earn a Bachelor of Science for Professional Nursing, and a year later she went for an M.B.A. at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. Then Brull was offered the chairmanship of the UAMS Department of Anesthesiology. Garcia soon followed and became associate director for pain medicine in the same department. “It was a challenge. We were very patient focused,” she said. Several years later, Brull left UAMS, the department was restructured and Garcia was out of a job.

“I had built bridges with the Department of Nursing,” Garcia said. She accepted a position as a staff nurse with the intensive care unit. A year later she became clinical services manager for the hospital’s 3A and 3C units, which care for patients with pulmonary, geriatrics and infectious disease issues. “I am very proud to wear this UAMS badge. UAMS has become my second home and afforded personal growth and development,” Garcia said.


check it out garcia’s units have some of the lowest turnover rates for nurses in the hospital.




Culinary Prescriptions

did you

U n i v e r s i t y

o f

A r k a n s a s

f o r

M e d i c a l

S c i e n c e s

Surgeon general’s Report

Former U.S. Surgeon general Dr. Richard Carmona recently presented a free public lecture on bone health and the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis at UAMS. Carmona, who served as the nation’s 17th surgeon general from 2002-2006, was the speaker for the inaugural Richard Webber Memorial lecture. The lecture series is in memory of the late Webber, a UAMS faculty member and first director of the UAMS Center for Orthopaedic Research. While surgeon general, Carmona released the 2004 Surgeon general’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis. By 2020, according to the report, half of all American citizens older than 50 will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis and low bone mass if no immediate action is taken by individuals at risk, health care professionals, health systems and policymakers.



Calling All Cooks! UAMS’ friends, faculty and staff members have united in their love of good food to create “Culinary Prescriptions,” a cookbook featuring more than 170 recipes in

Transplant Milestone UAMS’ internationally known treatment program for multiple myeloma reached another milestone in October 2007 as Jeffrey Zwerin of California received the 7,000th stem-cell transplant procedure performed at the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy. The Myeloma Institute, a part of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, has performed more blood stemcell transplants for myeloma than any other facility in the world.

From Textboo to Cookbook k

eight sections. The cookbook also

The stem cells are typically collected from the patient at the outset of treatment and then given back as a transfusion to promote recovery of the bone marrow following highdose chemotherapy. Stem-cell transplantation has led to higher survival and remission rates for patients with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood’s plasma. UAMS treats more than 2,250 patients with myeloma annually at the Myeloma Institute — more than are treated at any other facility in the country.

features favorite recipes of Arkansas legislators, local chefs and Arkansas first lady Ginger Beebe. Cost of the cookbook is $25, and all proceeds benefit UAMS’ Campaign Imagine. It is available online at www. or by calling (501) 686-5374.

New Melanoma Treatment Dr. Laura Hutchins of UAMS’ Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute is participating in a study to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of Allovectin-7, an investigational product for advanced melanoma. If Allovectin-7 is found to be safe and effective in clinical trials, it may offer patients a new option for fighting advanced melanoma. The ongoing study is designed to determine whether more patients with advanced melanoma respond more favorably to Allovectin-7 alone than to current standard chemotherapy alone. Hutchins is a professor, director of the UAMS Division of Hematology/ Oncology and director of clinical research for the Cancer Institute. The exact cause of melanoma is not always clear, but exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight is a major risk factor.

Shopping for a Cause Cancer patients at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute will benefit from the more than $100,000 raised by the 2007 Partners Card fundraiser. More than 140 stores in central Arkansas and more than 60 stores in northwest Arkansas participated in the annual event by offering discounts on their merchandise to shoppers who purchased a Partners Card. For nine days, shoppers who purchased the $50 cards received a 20 percent discount at dozens of their favorite stores. All proceeds from the sale of the Partners Cards go to the Cancer Institute’s volunteer auxiliary to fund projects that directly benefit cancer patients. Kelly Harbert was the 2007 Partners Card chairwoman.

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Mary Kaye McKinney is surrounded by Head Start students.



Help Wanted

Social Workers Help Cancer Patients Manage a Mix of Emotions

It will be the first time in 30 years that inpatient psychiatric care has been available on the UAMS campus.

The Witness Project, uses mobile Find out more at units to reach mammography screening the state’s most rural communities. A one-day retreat is held annually at the Cancer Institute to celebrate ovarian cancer survivors.





checkcheck it out it out

Dr. Rick Smith is ready to move his department into UAMS’ new Psychiatric Research Institute building.


Come Together

UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute Consolidates Mental Health Services


ver the last few years, visiting the UAMS Department of Psychiatry meant going to a series of portable buildings on the UAMS campus or a dozen locations spread across central Arkansas. But that changes when the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute (PRI) opens in early 2009. For the first time, UAMS will house most of its mental health resources in central Arkansas — patient care, research and education — under one roof. “This will be very important for our patients, their families and our staff,” said Dr. G. Richard Smith, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry. “Our staff will be able to collaborate in many ways. Our clinicians will be able to teach. Our educators will be able to do research. Our researchers will be able to see patients.” The five-floor, 100,000-square-foot PRI will incorporate 40 inpatient beds, an outpatient clinic, research areas, classrooms and administrative space. It will be the first time in 30 years that inpatient psychiatric care has been available on the UAMS campus, improving access and convenience when patients need immediate care. “We are one of the few academic medical centers without a psychiatric inpatient component, which means we can’t meet our patient needs on campus and we have to use other facilities for teaching our medical students,” Smith said. The PRI will be connected to the 540,000-square-foot hospital expansion, and near the department’s colleagues in the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Arkansas State Hospital and Little Rock Community Health Center.

Forward Thinking

The PRI was already under construction when UAMS announced a comprehensive eating disorder treatment program in 2006. The program is accepting patients for its outpatient services, including therapy sessions, medication and nutritional counseling. When the PRI opens, the program can offer more services, including hospitalization during part of a patient’s treatment. About 85,000 patient visits a year are expected for the PRI, which will make it one of the busiest buildings on campus. Some off-campus programs will continue at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and in the North Little Rock School District. Research will be accommodated in the Dierks Research Laboratories, named in honor of a gift from Fred and Louise Dierks of Hot Springs. The combination of research and clinical resources will allow PRI researchers to focus on getting their work turned into new treatments and techniques that can help patients.

For Dr. Warren Bickel, director of the Arkansas Center for Addiction Research, the PRI will bring together drug addiction research going on now in three locations on campus and one rented space off campus. “It’s hard to have a productive collaboration when your researchers are spread across several locations,” said Bickel, who envisions that even seeing colleagues at lunch or when going for a cup of coffee could promote collaboration. At the same time, there’s the interaction between researchers and their clinical counterparts. “We are very interested in sharing knowledge and working with those in clinical care, as well as sharing information and research findings that could improve patient outcomes,” Bickel said.

Patient-focused Care

The PRI will have its own magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. Smith said such imaging studies are an increasing part of psychiatric care and research, as the MRI can capture how a disease is affecting the brain and potentially offer more effective avenues for treatment. Patients visiting PRI programs such as the Walker Family Clinic, named for a gift from the Pat and Willard Walker Charitable Foundation, will find a warm and comfortable setting, Smith said. The PRI also will feature a healing garden and a café, in an effort to have a positive atmosphere for patients and their families. “When one suffers from a mental illness, all family members are usually affected,” Smith said. “That’s not always true with other medical conditions. Also, a patient will often recover more quickly if the family is involved and supportive through treatment.” When planning began in 2001, the PRI was to be a smaller project to provide clinical and research space. When plans emerged for the UAMS Medical Center expansion, along with construction of a new state hospital, it allowed the scope of the project to expand. “Now in the tradition of our other centers of excellence, we will have a facility that allows us to accomplish our missions of patient care, research and education,” Smith said. “It will keep many Arkansans from having to go out of state to find treatment.”


check it out Find out more at An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans age 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.





Double Take Dual Degree Program Offers Graduates A Competitive Edge

With both a master’s of public health and a law degree, Stacie Weeks hopes to use her career to influence public policy.


tacie Weeks has two reasons to celebrate. As of December 2007, she is a graduate of both the UAMS College of Public Health (COPH) and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. The dual degree program offered in coordination between the two universities gives students the chance to earn a law degree (juris doctorate) and master’s of public health (M.P.H.) simultaneously. It is one of three dual degree programs in the College of Public Health, which also include an M.P.H. combined with either a medical degree or doctor of pharmacy. “This degree gives me an edge on both ends of the spectrum,” Weeks said. “I can practice law, work in the public health sector or do both.” Veteran Little Rock lawyer Diane Mackey is director of the J.D./ M.P.H. dual degree program and works closely with each student enrolled. One of the biggest advantages, she said, is the fact that students can complete the dual degree program about six months sooner than they can by earning the degrees separately. “We work the program as strategically as possible,” Mackey said. “It’s a fine example of cooperation between the universities that really benefits the students.” To enroll in the program, students must be accepted to both universities and take the Law School Admission Test. Graduation requirements include 90 credit hours from the Bowen School of Law and 42 credit hours from the COPH, including an unpaid internship — known as a preceptorship — and a major project.



Many career avenues are open to graduates of the program, depending on which of the two degrees appeals to them most. Weeks’ career is taking her to Washington, D.C., where she was recently hired as a policy analyst in state emergency preparedness for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “The law can be used as a catalyst for improving public health,” Weeks said, citing Arkansas’ restaurant smoking ban and law to combat childhood obesity. “If you want to have a large impact on public health, you need public health policies reflected in laws and regulations. This will help to back you up with the necessary funding and political support.” Mackey is particularly pleased by the commitment of the deans and chancellors of both universities at making the program work. She also is impressed by the caliber of students enrolled in the program. “I’m excited that these young people see the value of a broader view of the world than is afforded by one professional degree. They will have choices, and I think they will make wonderful public servants,” Mackey said.


check it out Find out more at The first student enrolled in the J.D./M.P.H. dual degree program graduated in May 2007.


‘Entergetic’ Supporter entergy arkansas Ceo lends a hand to Campaign imagine



AMS has the kind of statewide presence that gets Hugh McDonald’s attention. “I’m a numbers guy,” said McDonald, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas. “UAMS has employees in almost every county of the state, and the annual economic impact UAMS has statewide is over $5 billion. It’s just huge.” McDonald came to Little Rock in 2000 and has been a volunteer for UAMS since 2001. He is immediate past chairman of the UAMS Foundation Fund Board and is helping lead UAMS’ most ambitious fundraising campaign yet: Campaign Imagine, with a $325 million goal by 2010. McDonald is on the campaign’s steering committee and is joined by Debbie Walker of Fayetteville and E. Lee Ronnel of Little Rock. Despite its impressive reach throughout Arkansas, UAMS must increase its private support to adequately address the state’s future health care needs, McDonald said. Only about 10 percent of UAMS’ revenue now comes from the state, meaning private donations are crucial to UAMS’ continued success. McDonald noted that UAMS already is making strategic moves to better serve Arkansas and to address a critical shortage of doctors and other health care workers that’s expected as baby boomers retire. The university is building additional classroom space on its Little Rock campus and is establishing a satellite campus in northwest Arkansas. Hugh McDonald is impressed by UAMS’ statewide economic impact. Faculty members also work to make health care treatments and education convenient to the entire state through UAMS’ seven Area Health Education Centers (AHECs). Space for an eighth AHEC is under construction in north central Arkansas. “Campaign Imagine can help UAMS reach its full potential by “I think that the variety of programs UAMS offers is one of the best providing the support necessary for a world-class hospital and continuing kept secrets in the state,” McDonald said. “UAMS offers such a high the growth and accomplishments of its six centers of excellence, quality of health care that the citizens of Arkansas — as well as people whether through buildings or human talent — you’ve got to have both,” from across the United States and even all over the world — come to McDonald said. UAMS to be treated. “It’s amazing what we’ve got right under our noses,” he added. “And check it out the potential for job creation through UAMS BioVentures is tremendous.” BioVentures benefits the economy by helping UAMS researchers get Find out more at In 2002, the Entergy Charitable Foundation gave $500,000 their inventions into the marketplace, either by helping establish start-up to support construction of the UAMS BioVentures building. companies or through licensing agreements with existing companies.




Adding It Up

38 million


More than

Amount saved by the state Medicaid program thanks to a system for selecting prescription drugs set up in part by UAMS pharmacists



Percentage of Arkansas school children who are overweight, according to an annual screening conducted by a UAMS program

10 hours

Time difference between Little Rock and Hyderabad, India, where a partnership with UAMS to promote telemedicine is getting under way

About 350

New and expectant mothers attending the first UAMS Mother/Baby Fair



Percentage of Arkansas psychiatrists who received their education at UAMS


The year UAMS acquired its first kidney dialysis machine


Amount in cumulative gifts needed to endow a named scholarship in the UAMS College of Health Related Professions

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Number of UAMS Kids First clinics in Arkansas designed to serve young children with special health concerns





Percentage of cancer patients in a UAMS study who said they looked to support groups for health information (versus 20 percent who looked for emotional support)

4301 W. Markham St. #890 Little Rock, AR 72205

Amount raised by UAMS medical students in a golf tournament to benefit child safety seat education


square feet

Size of the new UAMS Education Building now under construction NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION U.S. POSTAGE



Housecall Winter 2008  

A Quarterly Publication of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences - Winter 2008