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Health Care in Pine Bluff, AK

Treatment and teaching make JRMC the region's pacesetter for patient care

By Phil Newman on August 6, 2015

Kathy Pierce marvels at what she has seen since 1981, when the School of Nursing opened at Pine Bluff, Ark.'s Jefferson Regional Medical Center “in response to a request from several community leaders to assist with the nursing shortage at JRMC”—especially as she watches second- and third-generation students receive their training.

Over three-plus decades, the school “has successfully been ‘growing our own’ registered nurses to provide high-quality patient care at JRMC,” says Pierce, MNSc, RN, CPHQ, CNE, the nursing school’s director. “Through the years, employees and employees’ 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 key aspects of health care within Jefferson Regional Medical Center. 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.

Specifically, investments Jefferson Regional 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 and widen the medical center’s positive imprint. “Quote,” says a JRMC leader.

Educating future 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 Services (UAMS) to host the 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 enjoy a range of experiences, 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. For example, “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 will graduate 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. They 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.

“Closing quote…” says the JRMC leader.

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