UAMS Receives $1.3 Million from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue & You Foundation to Establish Chair, Expand Programs

By Jon Parham

A $1 million grant from Arkansas Blue Cross will establish The Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, George K. Mitchell, M.D., Endowed Chair in Primary Care that honors Mitchell — a UAMS graduate, Arkansas Blue Cross board member and retired president. The chair holder, when appointed, will focus on innovations in primary care to meet the triple aim of health system reform — better care, better patient experience and lower cost — through the incorporation of team-based care, health promotion, health literacy and population health strategies into primary care settings.

The Blue & You Foundation awarded $150,000 grants each to the UAMS Center for Dental Education and to the UAMS Office of Interprofessional Education to expand interprofessional education and collaborative practice for students at UAMS.

“UAMS is fortunate to have the strong and continued support of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Blue & You Foundation for programs that will improve health and health care in Arkansas,” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D. “Endowment of this chair significantly advances the ability of UAMS to focus on primary care education across the institution for the benefit of all Arkansans.

“At the same time, the Blue & You Foundation grants further strengthen our growing oral health care program and move us closer to giving all UAMS students more opportunities for learning side by side.”

Endowment of a chair requires gifts totaling $1 million or more that will generate interest income to support the chair’s activities. This chair will be a UAMS-wide chair, not housed within a particular college, with the chair holder appointed on a rotating basis from either within or outside UAMS.

“Arkansas Blue Cross is pleased to honor the work and legacy of our friend and colleague, Dr. George Mitchell, by endowing this chair at UAMS where he received his medical degree,” said Mark White, president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Blue Cross. “We believe this chair is an investment — not only in the good partnership between Arkansas Blue Cross and UAMS to provide quality health care for Arkansans — but also to ensure that the future of excellent primary health care is secure for all of Arkansas.”

Mitchell, who graduated with honors from the UAMS College of Medicine in 1956, was president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Blue Cross from 1975 until his 1993 retirement. He was a co-founder and senior partner of the Little Rock Diagnostic Clinic prior to joining Arkansas Blue Cross as medical director in 1968. He served on the Arkansas Blue Cross board from 1964 to 1968 and from 1986 to the present in addition to being a current Blue & You Foundation board member.

The grant to the Center for Dental Education in the UAMS College of Health Professions will expand an externship program started in early 2014 thanks to a previous Blue & You Foundation grant that brings fourth-year dental students from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry to UAMS for two-week clinic rotations. As many as 90 dental students will visit UAMS from fall 2014 through fall 2015, working in the center’s Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation Oral Health Clinic, at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and in the student-led UAMS 12th Street Health and Wellness Center providing general dental care for patients under supervision of UAMS faculty.

The grant to the UAMS Office of Interprofessional Education will fund development of a curriculum for interprofessional education, which occurs when students from two or more professions learn from, about and with one another to improve health outcomes. This fall the curriculum will become a graduation requirement for students in all UAMS colleges (Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and the Graduate School) that will better prepare graduates to deliver care as part of a collaborative health care team.

“The Blue & You Foundation is pleased to continue its support of programs at UAMS that will have a direct impact on making Arkansas communities healthier,” said Patrick O’Sullivan, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation.

The dental students also get the opportunity to work in the student-led, interdisciplinary 12th Street Health and Wellness Center. They work alongside students from other UAMS programs providing wellness information and health screenings to residents of the 12th Street neighborhood in Little Rock.

Founded in 1948, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is the largest health insurer in Arkansas. Arkansas Blue Cross and its affiliates have more than 2,500 employees.

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield established the Blue & You Foundation in 2001 as a charitable foundation to promote better health in Arkansas. The Blue & You Foundation awards grants annually to nonprofit or governmental organizations and programs that positively affect the health of Arkansans.

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 northwest Arkansas regional campus; 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, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,890 students and 782 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 regional centers throughout the state. Visit or