UAMS Celebrates Double ‘Topping Out’ of Hospital Expansion, PRI

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) today marked the high points for construction of a 10-floor, 540,000-square-foot expansion of UAMS Medical Center and the adjacent five-floor, 100,000-square-foot Psychiatric Research Institute (PRI) with a double “topping out” ceremony.


White steel beams, signed by UAMS employees and supporters, were raised into place to mark the highest point of construction on each building. Both the hospital expansion and PRI are expected to be completed in late 2008 with occupancy in January 2009.


“This much-needed expansion moves us far beyond the 50-year-old hospital building where we started on Markham Street and into a facility where the latest in hospital technology, design and vision are combined into a truly patient-focused environment,” said Richard Pierson, Vice Chancellor for Clinical Programs and executive director of UAMS Medical Center.


The hospital expansion will include 234 adult beds and 64 neonatal beds initially, with space for growth that would bring the total capacity to 393 private adult patient rooms between the new facility and the hospital’s existing Ward Tower. The addition also includes a new emergency department, clinical laboratory and radiology department along with room to expand other services. The new facility will include additional surgical and interventional suites, an intensive care unit and an intermediate care unit.

The expansion will allow UAMS to move most patient care operations from the original hospital building, opened in 1956.


The UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute will consolidate most psychiatric clinicians, researchers and educators in one building. Currently, the department is scattered among 13 locations in central Arkansas, with about 8,700 patient visits monthly.

“The ability to finally assemble most of the Department of Psychiatry’s resources in one location will greatly benefit our patients, students, researchers and the community through improved access to mental health services,” said G. Richard Smith, M.D., Marie Wilson Howells Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry in the UAMS College of Medicine.


The PRI will include outpatient and inpatient services. There will be 40 inpatient beds, along with space for research, clinical care, education and administration.


“Today represents another exciting step toward completion of facilities that will greatly enhance our ability to deliver quality patient care, educate future health care professionals and conduct lifesaving medical research for many years to come,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D.


A multi-level parking deck, being built adjacent and below the hospital expansion and PRI, will have 1,000 spaces intended primarily for patients and visitors to the new facilities.


Architects and construction contractors for the hospital expansion, PRI and parking deck are CDI Contractors, Inc., Polk Stanley Rowland Curzon Porter Architects, The Wilcox Group and HKS, Inc.


Baldwin & Shell Construction Company is the general contractor for the ongoing reconfiguration of Hooper Drive to accommodate the hospital expansion, the UAMS Residence Hall that opened in 2006, and the West Central Power Plant being built on West Seventh Street to support the hospital expansion and other new construction.


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 2,435 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