UAMS Receives Building from Schmieding Foundation

By David Wise

Pearl McElfish, Ph.D., vice chancellor for the UAMS Northwest Regional Campus, joined Schmieding Foundation President Gilda Underwood and Schmieding Foundation Vice President/Treasurer Lance Taylor for the signing ceremony at the Schmieding Center on Dec. 27, 2018.

The Schmieding Center was established Jan. 1, 1999, when Lawrence H. Schmieding gave UAMS more than $15 million to operate health and education programs for the seniors of Northwest Arkansas and to train home caregivers so older Arkansans could age in place at home.

Lawrence Schmieding, who died in 2009, made the gift after searching in vain for qualified home caregivers for his aging brother, Bert. The center became the first regional Center on Aging of the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, which is directed by Jeanne Wei, M.D., Ph.D.

After leasing two temporary sites for a few years, in 2002 the Schmieding Foundation designed and built the current 27,500-square-foot facility at 2422 North Thompson Street in Springdale.

Since 1999, the Schmieding Foundation has invested about $31 million in the Schmieding Center, Taylor said, including building costs, maintenance and educational programs. Per written agreement, UAMS received the title to the building after 20 years, which was Jan. 1, 2019.

“It was Lawrence Schmieding’s dream that the Schmieding Foundation work with UAMS to help seniors age in their home and enjoy the best possible quality of life,” Underwood said. “UAMS has worked with many partners in Northwest Arkansas toward these goals and has improved services to seniors not only in Northwest Arkansas but all over the state.”

“It has been a privilege to partner with UAMS and to see the developments that have occurred at the Schmieding Center,” Taylor said. “We look forward to UAMS continuing to advance the vision of Lawrence Schmieding and watching the Schmieding Center grow and serve seniors in Northwest Arkansas through quality health care, educational programs and caregiver training.”

The building includes a 125-seat auditorium, a geriatric medical clinic wing operated by Washington Regional, and an education wing that includes an Aging Resource Center, the Walter Turnbow Boardroom, administration offices and two classrooms. The facilities are equipped with audio/visual equipment and include the signature “Beth Vaughan Wrobel Care House” where students train in a simulated apartment to teach them how to take care of someone at home.

The Schmieding Center addresses the needs of seniors through:

  • Senior health clinic
  • Social and physical activities such as watercolor workshops and Tai Chi and yoga classes
  • Family caregiver workshops and support groups
  • Health professional continuing education
  • Aging resource center
  • Home caregiver training
  • Alzheimer/dementia classes
  • Certified nursing assistant training
  • Social work student fellowship experiences

The original gift included an operations endowment that funded the Schmieding Home Caregiver Training program to fulfill Schmieding’s quest to train caregivers to provide one-on-one personalized assistance that helps older adults stay healthy and safely at home. In Schmieding’s words, “Where there’s home, there’s hope.”

“Lawrence Schmieding passed away in 2009, and his legacy has been carried forward under the wonderful leadership of Gilda Underwood and Lance Taylor,” McElfish said. “Because of Mr. Schmieding’s vision and the dedication of people like Gilda, Lance and the foundation’s board of directors, the Schmieding Center will forever provide high-quality educational programs for health professionals, paraprofessionals, and the community and further Mr. Schmieding’s vision for an excellent quality of life for seniors and their families.”

Schmieding Center Building Transfer

From left: Gary McHenry, executive director of the Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education; Brandi Schneider, director of aging services and administration at the Schmieding Center; Dina Wood, UAMS senior director of development; Gilda Underwood, Schmieding Foundation president; Pearl McElfish, vice chancellor of the UAMS Northwest Regional Campus; Lance Taylor, Schmieding Foundation vice president; Eric Leemis, director of business operations analysis for UAMS Northwest; and David Harrison, executive vice president of First National Title Company.

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.