UAMS Dedicates New, Larger KIDS FIRST Facility in Morrilton

By Jon Parham

The 11,000-square-foot Robert H. Fiser Jr. KIDS FIRST Center, 411 Lentz Dr., is larger than the clinic’s previous location to accommodate an expanding enrollment. KIDS FIRST, a program of the Department of Pediatrics in the UAMS College of Medicine, provides services to children with special health care needs and their families.

The original Morrilton facility, the first KIDS FIRST location outside Little Rock, opened in 1992 in a wing of the Conway County Medical Center. Current enrollment is 69 patients daily but that figure is expected to grow to about 80 patients in the new facility.

“We are excited this wonderful new KIDS FIRST Center will allow us to provide care for more children and families in the Morrilton area, where we’ve had steady enrollment growth since first opening the doors,” said Richard Jacobs, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics in the UAMS College of Medicine. “Naming this new center for Dr. Fiser is a fitting tribute, as without his vision and leadership, the KIDS FIRST program would not exist.”

Fiser, who died in July, served as chairman of the Department of Pediatrics from 1975 to 1994. Among his many accomplishments, Fiser was credited, along with Patrick Casey, M.D., who serves as medical director for KIDS FIRST, for securing funding that allowed creation of the program in 1989.

“The transition of the program from research focused to patient care was a top priority for him,” said Casey, who was the principal investigator on the Infant Health and Development research project that evolved into KIDS FIRST. “This is just one way to remember the huge impact he had on this program.”

Carolyn Marsh, KIDS FIRST administrator, said local physicians and health care professionals in the area have been strong supporters of the program since the beginning. “We can only serve children referred by a primary care provider, so their understanding of the program and its value has been a key to success in Morrilton,” she said.

Thirty-six are employed full time by the center now. That number also is expected to increase as enrollment goes up, Marsh said.

KIDS FIRST has 11 sites statewide that provide services to more than 700 children and their families. In 2009, KIDS FIRST earned the highest level of accreditation awarded by the international organization Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

KIDS FIRST received a three-year accreditation from CARF International for its Home and Community Based Rehabilitation (Children and Adolescents) and Outpatient Treatment: Family Services (Children and Adolescents). KIDS FIRST is the only organization in Arkansas accredited in both Home and Community Based Services and Outpatient Treatment Services.

For more information on KIDS FIRST, visit

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 hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven 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, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 775 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 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. Visit or