Ceiling-Breaking Ceremony Marks Expansion Start Of UAMS Reynolds Institute on Aging

By Nate Hinkel

The 55,000-square-foot expansion, on top of the existing four-story institute, is funded by a $30.4 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, announced in June 2009. An additional $5.6 million is being raised locally to meet the requirements of the grant.

“This expansion is recognition of the institute’s many contributions on behalf of older Arkansans and the promise for doing even more,” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D. “With the help of the Reynolds Foundation, we are going to help Arkansas meet the demand for care by aging baby boomers.”

The ceiling breaking ceremony was held in lieu of a traditional groundbreaking to reflect the nature of the project. When construction is completed in early 2012, the additional space will enable the institute to greatly expand its education, research and interdisciplinary training programs.

Institute on Aging Executive Director Jeanne Wei, M.D., Ph.D., said the expanded institute will make it much easier to recruit geriatric specialists. She also noted that Arkansas already has one of the country’s oldest populations.

According to the Arkansas Healthy Aging Report, by 2025 one out of every four Arkansans will be 65 or older. That compares to 14 percent of Arkansans in 2000.

“This will create a unique challenge for the health care industry, so we must be prepared,” Wei said.

The existing Reynolds Institute on Aging facility is 101,000 square feet. Its construction was made possible with $28.8 million from the Reynolds Foundation in 1997.

The institute retained Perkins Eastman of Pittsburgh as its architect (the same architect for the institute’s first four floors), working with Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects of Little Rock. The general contractor is Nabholz Construction Services.

In addition to the four new floors, construction includes a raised pedestrian walkway that will connect the Reynolds Institute with the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute one block away.

In December a tower crane will be installed to raise the steel framework during the winter and spring. The exterior of the building will be completed by late summer 2011.

Meanwhile work to raise the $5.6 million local match is being performed by The New Challenge Campaign Committee, which includes the institute’s Community Advisory Board, faculty and friends of the institute.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a 540,000-square-foot hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is the state’s only Level 1 trauma center. UAMS has 2,836 students and 761 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 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. Visit www.uams.edu or uamshealth.com.