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Baptist Health on Monday dedicated its new $32 million, 160,000-SF Baptist Health Medical Office Building at the health system’s North Little Rock campus.
Cam Patterson, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, also spoke at the dedication, because the building houses the Baptist Health-UAMS Medical Education Program. Gov. Asa Hutchinson also attended the event.
The program is a joint venture that started with 24 residents in the specialties of family medicine and internal medicine. Baptist aims to expand the program to offer 120 new residency opportunities in the state.
“Many of you have heard me speak about the shortages of physicians in our state, and the challenges of recruiting and bringing in physicians from other states to Arkansas,” Baptist Health CEO Troy Wells said. “By working together, Baptist Health and UAMS will dramatically impact the number of residency opportunities available here.”
Wells said that, when physicians train at a certain place, they’re more likely to stay in that place.
“So one way to fix the physician shortage challenge is to train more physicians in our state,” he said. “And that’s what we’re doing here today. It’s what we’re here to celebrate.”
Patterson called the physicians shortage a nationwide problem “with particular acuity in predominantly rural states like Arkansas.”
“It’s real, and it’s significant,” Patterson said. “It affects all areas of our country and all areas of our state.”
Patterson said Arkansas ranks 46th in health care outcomes because of lack to access to care.
“If we don’t have enough physicians, we don’t have enough access to care,” Patterson said. He lamented that Arkansas subsidizes medical education for many students in Arkansas only to lose them to out-of-state residencies. He called collaborations like the one between Baptist Health and UAMS “essential” to resolving the issue.
Hutchinson said 439 medical students are expected to graduate from institutions across Arkansas in the next two years, but only 290 resident slots exist in the state. So 150 graduates will have to take out-of-state residencies if nothing changes.
Also housed in the new building are the Baptist Health Internal Medicine Clinic and Baptist Health Family Medicine Residency Clinic.
Other features of the building include state-of-the-art equipment, conference rooms, a resident lounge, shower facilities, an exercise room, a kitchenette, patient care clinical areas, physician clinic and lab and x-ray spaces. There will be offices available for lease to doctors.
Lewis Architects and Engineers served as the architect for the project. The engineering firm was Petit and Petit, and the general contractor was CDI Contractors.