UAMS Celebrates a Century of Excellence in Pediatric Medicine

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – A century of excellence in pediatric medicine in Arkansas was celebrated today by the Department of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).


The commemoration of 100 years of UAMS pediatric medicine in the state began with a faculty luncheon at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, a teaching affiliate of UAMS that houses the main offices of the Department of Pediatrics, and was followed by cake and punch for the entire staff. The occasion also was commemorated with the unveiling of a photograph of the department’s faculty, residents and fellows.


“The UAMS Department of Pediatrics has witnessed a remarkable and successful evolution since its beginnings in 1904,” said Debra Fiser, M.D., the department’s chair and a professor of pediatrics.


Today, the Department of Pediatrics is the UAMS College of Medicine’s largest department with more than 170 faculty and 950 professionals, paraprofessionals and support staff. In 1980 the UAMS Department of Pediatrics was moved to Arkansas Children’s Hospital where UAMS pediatricians and pediatric specialists now provide the majority of medical care.


The branch of medicine specializing in the care of children began in Arkansas with a lone physician, Dr. Morgan Smith of El Dorado, who received specialty training in New York and moved to Little Rock in 1904 to join the medical school.


Vida Gordon, M.D., established the Department of Pediatrics as an individual entity within the Medical Department in1947. William A. Reilly, M.D., served as the department’s first chair and facilitated its first large philanthropic gift, a $500,000 grant from the Buchanan Foundation in 1950. Funds from this grant were used to establish the William Buchanan Pavilion for Children, which provided space for 135 pediatric beds.


The department saw remarkable growth from 1957 to 1970 during the tenure of Dr. Theodore Panos. Under his leadership, the department’s faculty increased from two to 17 and the number of pediatricians in the state grew from 19 to 51. Panos was instrumental in obtaining the federally funded Children and Youth Project, which extended health services to low income children and families in Pulaski County. He also helped found the Maternal and Infant Care Project, designed to lower the incidence of mental retardation through better care for mothers and high-risk children.


“More recently, a major milestone for the department has been the formation of the Children’s Hospital Research Institute in 1989, which allowed us to expand possibilities for research on the Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) campus,” Fiser said. “Within the last five years, we have recruited senior leadership that includes several researchers with National Institutes of Health funding.”


Today the UAMS Department of Pediatrics ranks among the top 10 pediatric departments in the country in regard to its size and programs, and continues to excel within its three major areas of focus: clinical services, education and research.


The department offers a wide range of clinical services at ACH as well as at UAMS where it staffs the neonatal intensive care unit and nurseries where care is provided for more than 10,000 inpatient admissions and 1,200 newborns each year. Department physicians provide clinical services at the Dennis Developmental Center in Little Rock, the Schmieding Developmental Center in Springdale and regional outreach clinics in 10 subspecialties at more than 25 locations throughout Arkansas


Specialized programs administered by the Department of Pediatrics include the Transplant Services and Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Service, Asthma Care Center, Sports Medicine PLUS, Kids Care, Kids First and the Child Health and Family Life Institute. The department also administers and provides medical direction for the Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Pulaski County. Faculty staffs the air medical critical care transport service at ACH, which transports more than 1,600 patients a year.


The Department of Pediatrics administers the only fully accredited pediatric residency program in the state. The UAMS Pediatric Training Program at ACH offers a three-year pediatric residency and four-year combined pediatric and internal medicine residency. ACH also serves as the pediatric education facility for numerous other medical specialties at UAMS, including surgery, cardiovascular surgery, urology, orthopaedics, otolaryngology, ophthalmology, neurosurgery and radiology.


Research centers and programs within the department include: The Center for Applied Research and Evaluation, The Arkansas Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention, The Pediatrics Pharmacology Research Unit and the Delta Nutrition Project. Pediatrics faculty members also are involved in research in pulmonary and critical care medicine, as well as infectious diseases, allergy, endocrinology, hematology-oncology, neonatology and psychology.


Arkansas Children’s Hospital is a longtime clinical and teaching affiliate of UAMS. The two institutions coordinate clinical service, educational programs and research initiates among pediatrics faculty and other university faculty. 


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.