AHEC-Pine Bluff Dedicates $1 Million Addition Named for Former Director Donald Miller, M.D.

By todd

The more than 8,000-square-foot expansion was built by Jefferson Regional Medical Center to meet the growing needs of UAMS AHEC-Pine Bluff, which is leasing the space. JRMC has forged a strong relationship with the local AHEC since it was created in 1973. The new space adds two annexes that include office and faculty space for the behavioral science program, and offices, call rooms and a conference room for the residency program. While AHEC-Pine Bluff focuses on training family practice residents, the program, which includes hospital-based training at JRMC, also educates nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals.

The 11 a.m. dedication was held outside the UAMS AHEC Family Practice Center at 40101 Mulberry Street, adjacent to JRMC. A golf tournament and the annual AHEC Bash, honoring this year’s graduating family practice residents and welcoming the incoming year’s resident physicians, were to follow.

Today’s ceremony was a time to reflect on the UAMS AHEC-Pine Bluff’s 33-year history and its significant advancements under Miller’s stewardship. Miller, who died in 2004, was director from 1973-1995.

Charles O. Cranford, D.D.S., M.P.A., vice chancellor of UAMS Regional Programs and executive director of the UAMS Arkansas AHEC Program, recalled being impressed with AHEC-Pine Bluff when he began leading the statewide program 21 years ago.

“It was clear in 1985 that the Pine Bluff AHEC was the innovation leader in the AHEC system,” Cranford said. “There’s been no shortage of creativeness and aggressiveness in that program. I think that Don Miller really set the standard for them. He was a man who believed that things could be done, and he would go out and do them.”

AHEC-Pine Bluff’s current director is H. Marks Attwood, M.D. “Dr. Attwood has continued the strong leadership begun by Dr. Miller,” Cranford said.

Attwood, who served his residency at AHEC-Pine Bluff under Miller, spearheaded efforts to establish outreach AHEC clinics at Rison and Altheimer. The Rison outreach clinic was the first satellite clinic for the UAMS AHEC system.

Since AHEC-Pine Bluff’s inception, 246 doctors have completed their residencies there and 78 percent have remained in Arkansas. Counties served by AHEC-Pine Bluff are Arkansas, Cleveland, Drew, Garland, Grant, Hot Spring, Jefferson, Lincoln, Lonoke, Prairie and Saline.

Cranford provided a healthy list of “firsts” that AHEC-Pine Bluff could claim. Among them:

  • Developing training programs for allied health professions such as radiologic technology, respiratory care and medical technology
  • Creating a consortium of rural hospitals and the Southeast Arkansas Medical Information Center (SEAMIC) to share educational resources and to provide community hospitals with in-service education
  • Establishing an affiliation with a Community Health Center, the Jefferson Comprehensive Care Center in Pine Bluff
  • Creating the first MASH (Medical Application of Science for Health) program. The summer program showcases health care careers for high school students and has become a state and national model.
  • Having the first and only affiliation with an osteopathic school, with osteopathic students serving residencies in Pine Bluff. The AHEC is the only one to provide a fully accredited internship for osteopathic physicians recognized by the American Osteopathic Association.
  • Being the first of UAMS’ AHECs to expand its residency program. AHEC-Pine Bluff started with 12 residents and has expanded to as many as 30.
  • Having the first comprehensive library that became a model for the UAMS AHEC library system
  • Becoming the first AHEC to incorporate a private practice into its facility to expand its educational program for residents and students.

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 2,320 students and 690 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 9,300 employees, including nearly 1,000 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.5 billion a year. For more information, visit www.uams.edu.