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Health Care in Jefferson County AR

Discover how Jefferson Regional Medical Center (JRMC) plays a pivotal role as a top health-care provider for the region, with a comprehensive range of services and a commitment to meet community needs that make it an anchor of economic strength and vitality.

By Kevin Litwin on November 30, 2015

Kathy Pierce marvels at what she has seen since 1981, when the School of Nursing opened at Jefferson Regional Medical Center (JRMC)  – especially as she watches second- and third-generation students receive their training. In its three-plus decades, the school, which was founded to assist with a nursing shortage in the area, “has successfully been ‘growing our own’ registered nurses to provide high-quality patient care at JRMC,” says Pierce, the nursing school’s director. “Through the years, employees and their relatives have been encouraged to elevate their educational level at the School of Nursing to become a registered nurse in order to care for today’s patients who have highly complex needs.” The nursing school is one of many health-care assets within JRMC. The 350-bed hospital plays a pivotal role as a top health-care provider for the region, with a comprehensive range of services and a commitment to meet community needs that make it an anchor of economic strength and vitality. The investment JRMC is making to enhance its facilities – such as a newly remodeled wellness center in Pine Bluff and new heart, wound care and trauma centers – continue to deepen the medical center’s positive imprint. The hospital has more projects in the works, including a new freestanding urgent care center expected to open in 2016 and plans to construct a new building to replace its current facility by 2025. “After more than 100 years in Jefferson County, we are uniquely in tune with the needs of our neighbors,” says Walter Johnson, president and CEO of JRMC, pointing to the “roughly 700 people a day who are seen at the hospital or one of our clinics – people who may not have otherwise had access to health-care services.”

Educating Doctors

The School of Nursing is not the only way JRMC is educating future caregivers. It also partners with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to host UAMS South Central Family Medicine Residency, a three-year program to train physicians. The residency program was established at JRMC in 1973 as the first of eight regional centers now serving the state’s health-care needs. During their training, residents gain expertise in a range of settings, rotating through JRMC, private practices, the area’s teaching hospitals, rural-care settings, and more. The program is rich with direct interaction between residents, trainers and patients, emphasizing EGDs, colonoscopy and wound care, with robust obstetrics training available as well. “Family physicians supervise our Family Medical Center and our own inpatient service,” says Toni Middleton, M.D., director of the residency. “Local specialists serve as consulting faculty and supervise specialty rotations.” Both nursing and physician training are set to grow in the years ahead. “We are extremely proud of the recent transition of our diploma program to an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Nursing degree,” Pierce says. “The last class of diploma students graduated in December.” Converting from diplomas to degrees was not easy, she says, but “with a tremendous amount of support by administration at JRMC, requirements of all five regulating bodies were met in a timely manner, and the first class of AAS students will graduate in May of 2016.” Continuum of Care As a reflection of a commitment to care for people of all ages and stages, the region is also home to several centers for geriatric care. These include South Central Center on Aging and Trinity Village, a Pine Bluff retirement community that recently opened a new wing of assisted-living apartments. Taken together, these commitments to good health and top-tier patient care help to make Jefferson County a vibrant, welcoming place to call home. For the 1,450 employees at JRMC, that means enjoying good benefits and a strong quality of life while focusing on the health of their neighbors. “We are constantly assessing the needs of our patients and aggressively working to meet those needs,” President and CEO Johnson says.

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