Area Health Education Centers Get New Identity, Names as UAMS Regional Centers

By Ben Boulden

“The AHECs have always been UAMS programs, but by bringing them under the umbrella of the UAMS name, we hope to convey a greater sense of cooperation toward a common goal of better health,” said Mark Mengel, M.D., director of UAMS Regional Programs

The centers will be known by region: UAMS Northwest in Fayetteville/Springdale, UAMS West in Fort Smith, UAMS North Central in Batesville/Mountain Home, UAMS Northeast in Jonesboro, UAMS South Central in Pine Bluff, UAMS East in Helena-West Helena, UAMS Southwest in Texarkana, and UAMS South in El Dorado/Magnolia.

Six of the regional centers have nine primary care clinics. These will be known by the city in which they are located: UAMS Family Medical Center Fayetteville, UAMS Family Medical Center Springdale, UAMS Family Medical Center Fort Smith, UAMS Family Medical Center Jonesboro, UAMS Family Medical Center Texarkana, UAMS Family Medical Center El Dorado, and UAMS Family Medical Center Magnolia. The exception is UAMS South Central, which has UAMS Family Medical Center Pine Bluff, and the Justiss-Lindsey Clinic.

Two of the centers have community health education programs but not primary care clinics: UAMS East in Helena-West Helena and UAMS North Central in Batesville/Mountain Home.

Our educational programs within each regional center will still carry the AHEC name, Mengel said, as they are funded in part by a federal grant.

“As UAMS regional centers, the various programs in the regions will continue to maintain strong relationships with area hospitals, county health offices, social service agencies and city and county governments to improve the health of all Arkansans,” Mengel said.

The initial Area Health Education Centers Program was started in 1973 through the efforts of then-Gov. Dale Bumpers, the Arkansas Legislature and UAMS to train medical residents and provide clinical care and health education services around the state.

In fiscal year 2012, Arkansas AHECs trained 153 family medicine residents, 776 health professions students and assisted and educated 54,698 clients through AHEC libraries. Together in the same period, they handled 174,410 outpatient visits, 2,851 emergency room visits and 72,028 hospital visits while also delivering 1,213 babies and providing $2.26 million in care to the uninsured.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health 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 790 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit or