UAMS Brings COVID-19 Supplies to Drive-Thru Event in Little Rock

By Linda Satter

UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, stopped by to greet volunteers, meet with dignitaries and help hand out bags, telling drivers, “Have a great day!”

”Proud to be a part of an outpouring of community support by so many amazing groups. We appreciate Second Baptist for hosting and the many staff and volunteers who made it happen,” Patterson said.

The event, UAMS Cares, was spearheaded by the UAMS Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Brian Gittens, the division’s vice chancellor, said “Covid-19 has had a disparate impact on minority members, so this has been a targeted effort to equip, engage and educate community members and let them know UAMS cares.”

The event was funded by a grant from the Arkansas Minority Health Commission through the state Department of Health. Other sponsors were the UAMS 12th Street Health & Wellness Center, the UAMS Translational Research Institute and the Arkansas Medical, Dental & Pharmaceutical Association (AMDPA).

More than 50 volunteers helped with the event which drew more than 200 community members.

“A lot of people are very grateful that UAMS is doing this, and it comes at a very important time,” state Rep. Fred Allen said while distributing the materials and free boxed lunches in the church parking lot at 1709 John Barrow Road, which is in his district.

State Rep. Jamie Scott said that although her constituents live in North Little Rock, she felt it was important to be on hand for the event hosted by the UAMS Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, “to encourage young minorities who look like me” to get vaccinated when vaccines become available.

Senior Pastor Kevin Kelly said he announced the event during Sunday morning services and the church also posted it on its Facebook page.

“We try to touch the community with the love of Christ,” he said. “To be able to have this partnership with UAMS means a lot to us.” By participating, he said, “We can be the hands of Christ, the feet of Christ and the heart of Christ.”

One volunteer, Christopher Hardister, whose mother Janean Hardister is manager of operations for the Department of Occupational Health and Safety at UAMS, stood near a table distributing bags of information and boxed lunches to walk-up customers from the neighborhood.

Janean Hardister, poised on a scooter in front of the church, held a UAMS Cares sign and waved down motorists, encouraging them and other passersby to stop.

One motorist said she had just picked up her nephew after he underwent a medical treatment and was grateful to be flagged down, for a chance to get them both a meal and some information.

The information, printed on slick, colorful paper, debunked some myths about the virus, and provided facts about its spread, symptoms and the risks of getting it. Also included were guidelines on social distancing and a “What You Need to Know” pamphlet about the Covid-19 vaccines in general.

“I think it’s important for us to make credible information available to the community on this virus that is affecting the minority community so heavily. It’s a public health issue,” said Lanita White, Pharm.D., assistant dean for student affairs in the College of Pharmacy and president of AMDPA.

Among the other UAMS executives on hand for the event was Stephanie Gardner, Pharm.D., Ed.D., senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, chief strategy officer and provost.

Edgar Meyer, M.D., an assistant professor in the College of Medicine who serves on a committee for underrepresented minorities, said he was particularly glad to see vaccine information printed in Spanish, “to reach people who might be a little leery” of vaccines, and to encourage people to continue using safe practices despite the availability of vaccines.

“This is really important now, during the holidays,” he said.