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New faces, new places: the Arkansas medical community goes through changes, expansions.

IN ARKANSAS HEALTH CARE, 1992 was the year of shifting executives and hospital expansions.

It began when A. Jack Reynolds left St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center at Little Rock as chief executive officer on Dec. 31. A few months later, he surprised the medical community by taking over as director of the state Department of Human Services.

He was replaced in mid-May by Thomas L. Feurig, a health care executive who had served as president of the Milwaukee region of Wheaton Franciscan Services Inc., an 811-bed system.

Dr. Randall O'Donnell, chief executive officer of Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, announced his resignation in November to become CEO of Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

O'Donnell had been CEO at Children's Hospital since 1983. He was replaced temporarily by Phillip K. Gilmore, the administrator and chief operating officer of the hospital.

A nationwide search is on for a permanent replacement.

Late in the year, a new, unnamed preferred provider organization was formed by USAble Corp. and Baptist Medical System, two businesses that since the mid-1980s have been direct competitors in the health maintenance organization market.

USAble is lining up regional hospitals to participate in the PPO, which could become the dominant managed care plan in the state. The PPO offers freedom of choice in selecting a physician -- a sticking point for many employers who don't like the HMO concept.

There is a catch. Patients who go outside the PPO "network" for care pay about 20 percent more.

Baptist will serve as the primary referral hospital for patients in other areas of the state who need special care.

The North Little Rock Oncology Center opened in the fall, giving the Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute its first challenge in Pulaski County.

CARTI responded with an advertising blitz and by planning new satellite centers in at least two new locations in Little Rock.

Doctors Hospital completed a $6.4 million expansion project, adding an 18-bed outpatient services department, a new four-room hand and microsurgery suite, a five-bed patient holding area, an anesthesia block room, physician and staff dressing areas, an operating room and a staff lounge.

Grants and Projects

Arkansas Children's Hospital received a $427,567 grant to research possibilities for a universal health care system for Arkansas children.

Such a system could allow employees to assign monthly income from the earned-income tax credit as insurance premiums. The study is made possible by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

At Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock, the boldest move of the year was the opening of the Baptist Breast Center, a 2,500-SF facility with a unique needle biopsy technology.

The hospital also has acknowledged plans for an eye center on campus, but no details have been released.

The forensic toxicology lab at Baptist became first in the state to be certified for drug testing by the National Institute for Drug Abuse, opening the door for future government drug-testing contracts.

Baptist also instituted the Baptist Health Hotline, a telephone service that offers physician referrals, recorded messages about certain health problems and information about educational opportunities at the hospital.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences at Little Rock continued its ambitious $63.5 million fund-raising campaign begun in 1991. It had chipped away at the goal with $23.2 million in contributions and pledges by mid-November.

Included in the fund-raising package are $5 million in scholarship endowments, $10 million for faculty endowments, $16 million for special projects and $32.5 million for the construction of facilities.

Construction will include a multipurpose educational building, a student activities center, a new 90-bed wing on the patient tower, a 5 1/2-story addition to the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, and the new Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute. The eye institute should be completed by spring.

St. Vincent acquired important new equipment in 1992, including a new "waterless" lithotripter for eliminating kidney stones, and a new laser for the cardiac catheterization laboratory that was the first of its kind in Arkansas.

The hospital also re-entered the obstetrics market after a 16-year absence.

Regional Hospitals Expand

In Texarkana, a new acute care facility is being built for St. Michael Hospital at a projected cost of $56 million. A medical office complex and other facilities also are under way, bringing the projected cost to about $140 million.

At Rogers, the St. Mary-Rogers Memorial Hospital began a 30,000-SF addition to the northeast side of the 41-year-old facility and a 10,000-SF addition to the southwest side.

The cost is $8 million. The hospital now calls itself St. Mary's Hospital.

Owners of the St. Joseph's Regional Health Center of Hot Springs finally found something to do with their old downtown facility after moving to the south part of the city in 1991.

In July, the Sisters of Mercy Health System of St. Louis sold the building to the city of Hot Springs for $300,000. It will be used as the Arkansas School for Mathematics and Science.

In fall 1993, the city will turn over the building to the state Department of Education for $1 per year.

And lastly, Conway Regional Hospital was busy expanding with construction of a 52,000-SF, three-floor tower projected for completion in June.

The addition to the 35-year-old facility will include a 23,000-SF ambulatory care facility on the ground floor and 14,000 SF on both the second and third floors for medical office space.
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Title Annotation:The Year 1992 in Review; hospital developments in Arkansas in 1992
Author:Haman, John
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Dec 28, 1992
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