West Central Arkansas Center on Aging Dedicated

By todd

, Ark. – Seniors in western Arkansas can look forward to better geriatric educational and clinical initiatives, thanks to the new West Central Arkansas Center on Aging.


Officials at today’s dedication of the West Central Arkansas Center on Aging, a program of the Donald W. Reynolds Center on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), said the center seeks to raise the awareness level and standard of care on aging-related health care issues in a 14-county region.

“We are pleased to be able to partner with the medical community in Fort Smith to help us fulfill our mission to serve Arkansans,” UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson said.

The West Central Arkansas Center on Aging is the result of a unique partnership involving UAMS, St. Edward Mercy Health Network and Sparks Health System. The Fort Smith-based center serves Conway, Crawford, Faulkner, Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Montgomery, Perry, Polk, Pope, Scott, Sebastian, Van Buren and Yell counties as part of the Arkansas Aging Initiative (AAI).

The AAI, a program of the Center on Aging at UAMS, is supported by $2 million a year from Initiated Act One (The Tobacco Settlement). AAI is creating seven regional centers statewide, working to guarantee all older Arkansans access to quality health care within a 50-mile radius of their homes. Other regional centers are in El Dorado, Jonesboro, Pine Bluff, Springdale and Texarkana, and another center is planned for the West Memphis/Delta area.

Each of the regional centers will receive $250,000 annually to develop education programs addressing health issues of older people, such as smoking, diet and exercise.

Each regional center consists of a Senior Health Center and a Center for Senior Education. The Senior Health Center is developed by local hospitals and offers the following services to older adults and their families: primary care, specialty care, consultation, health promotion, coordination of care and rehabilitation. Centers for Senior Education seek to raise awareness of senior health issues through informational programs for the public and health care professionals.

Gretchen Orosz, M.D., a fellowship-trained geriatrician who heads the Sparks Senior Health Center, is the director of the West Central Arkansas Center on Aging. St. Edward Mercy Health Network’s Senior Health Center is headed by Daniel Cruz, M.D., of Waldron, who serves as the assistant director of the West Central Arkansas Center on Aging.

The center’s offices at 2200 S. Waldron Road in Fort Smith include a Resource Center, complete with a library of senior health information that includes books, periodicals, other printed materials, videos, computer-based materials and Internet-based resources. The materials and services are available free to the public.

David A. Lipschitz, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatrics in the UAMS College of Medicine, said he believes the regional Center on Aging will improve the region’s quality of life.

“I can think of no better use of these resources than to create this marvelous network of Centers on Aging that will teach seniors how to lead healthy lifestyles and improve the quality of care available,” Lipschitz said. “As Americans live longer, the focus of health care must shift from merely keeping people alive longer to making those later years healthier and more productive.”

Claudia Beverly, R.N., Ph.D., AAI director, said the West Central Arkansas Center on Aging is a key part of the statewide program.

“The greater Fort Smith area, as the state’s second-largest population center, is the anchor of our efforts in Western Arkansas,” Beverly said. “We believe very firmly that each of our regional centers has an important role to play by providing vital information and services to help entire sections of the state age more healthfully.”

The UAMS Department of Geriatrics– one of only three such medical school departments in the United States – was ranked No. 8 in the nation, ahead of Yale University, by U.S.News & World Report, in its 2004 ranking of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.”

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,170 students and 650 residents and is the state’s largest public employer with almost 9,000 employees. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of about $3.8 billion a year.


UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Center on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute.