UAMS Kicks Off Medical Care Program for Lee County Students

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – Parents of children attending two Lee County public schools can sign up now to participate in a medical care program offered by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).


Using two-way, interactive video and medical devices that can be monitored over long distances, the UAMS program will make doctors available to parents who don’t have convenient access to a pediatrician or behavioral specialist due to a lack of transportation, inability to take time off work or other issues.


Parents can take advantage of this program by signing consent forms available at Lee High School and Whitten Elementary. For more information, contact Whitten Elementary Principal Lynn Baird at 870-295-7120 or Lee High Principal Irish Williams at 870-295-7130.


The medical services include consultations for general pediatric illnesses, such as sore throat, ear infections and rashes. Pediatric specialists also will be available to help improve classroom behavior. All students at the two schools are eligible to participate in the program – the first of its kind in Arkansas. Visits with a UAMS doctor will be based on referrals by registered nurses who work at the schools.


The services are being provided through a three-year, $748,000 federal grant that will test the cost-effectiveness of using distance health to help some of the most medically underserved areas of the country. The grant pays for a registered nurse on site and a nurse practitioner on the UAMS campus to diagnose most illnesses. UAMS’ Bryan Burke, M.D., a pediatrician, is the primary collaborating physician.


The nurses based at the two schools will use state-of-the-art video and medical equipment that links patients with doctors at UAMS. Next year, the program will put UAMS-linked monitoring equipment in the homes of as many as 20 diabetic and asthmatic children who attend the Lee County schools.


The program grant came from the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, which is within the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Lee High School and Whitten Elementary were selected for the program with support from Lee County School District Superintendent Wayne Thompson. Other partners with the project are the Lee County Community Health Center and the Lee County Health Unit. The county has no pediatrician and a lack of transportation often prevents residents from seeking medical care until a trip to the emergency room is necessary.


In the future, other underserved rural areas may benefit from such medical care, depending on the success of the Lee County program, said Ann Bynum, Ed.D., UAMS’ Rural Hospital Program director.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,430 students and 715 medical residents. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 9,400 employees, including nearly 1,000 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. For more information, visit