UAMS-ACH Clinical Programs

The growth of new clinical and research programs developed by physicians of the Department Dr. Watson Arnold, the first pediatric nephrologist in Arkansas, directed the first pediatric dialysis treatment in 1978. Under his leadership, followed by Dr. Eileen Ellis in 1990, the of Pediatrics with ACH support was broad and varied. The following describes some of these programs.

Dr. Watson Arnold, the first pediatric nephrologist in Arkansas, directed the first pediatric renal dialysis number treatment in 1978. Under his leadership, followed by Dr. Eileen Ellis in 1990,  the number of dialysis treatments grew exponentially. From 1993 – 2018, 15,254 hemodialysis procedures were performed along with 13,057 peritoneal dialysis treatments. The first pediatric renal transplant at ACH occurred in 1987, and by 2018, 227 renal transplants had been performed at ACH.

Dr. Debra Fiser joined the department faculty in 1981 as the first pediatric intensive care specialist, and she opened the first real intensive care unit at ACH in 1981.  Overseen by Dr. Robert Arrington, the first generation air transport occurred in 1983 with a fixed wing twin engine airplane. This aircraft was used primarily to transport preterm newborn infants, but it was also used to transport older children who were too unstable to transport on the ground. The first helicopter, named Angel One, began transport services in 1985. Under the leadership of a recently recruited intensivist, Dr. Michele Moss, this service continued to grow.

The first bone marrow transplant occurred at ACH in 1981 under the supervision of Dr. Russell Steele. The cardiology group under Dr. J.B. Norton’s leadership continued to grow during these years. The first cardiovascular intensive care unit opened in 1983. The cardiologists cared for more than 250 heart surgeries that occurred that year. The ECMO (Extra Corporeal Mechanical Oxygenation) program was established in 1989 under the leadership of Dr. Bonnie Taylor of the neonatology group, and Dr. James Fasules, a cardiologist. Cardiology became the first section of the Department of Pediatrics to provide outpatient services in local communities, beginning in 1983 with clinics in Jonesboro and Fayetteville, and later expanding to Lake Village, Texarkana, Fort Smith, El Dorado, and Mountain Home.

The Emergency Department at ACH and the Emergency Medicine Section of the Department of Pediatrics group grew significantly during these years. The first 24-hour emergency “room” opened in the fall of 1981, was expanded in 1984, and expanded again in 1987 due to the rapid increase in patient visits. In Stephen Handley’s history of ACH, Dr. Randall O’Donnell was quoted as saying that the original ER was designed for 5,000-6,000 visits per year, but by 1987 approximately 50,000 visits per year were expected to occur.

Dr. Jerry Jones initiated the program for children with suspected child abuse and neglect during the 1980s. He established protocols for evaluation in the emergency room and provided 24-hour coverage for inpatient evaluations seven days per week. He became an expert in providing court testimony and provided training to pediatric residents to provide testimony when subpoenaed to court. He established the Arkansas Children’s Health Clinic for outpatient evaluations of children with suspected abuse and neglect.

The Neuroscience Unit was established at ACH in 1990 to treat children with brain tumors, seizure disorders, and other neurological problems, under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Bates, then the Chief of Pediatric Neurology in the DOP. In 1995 the ACH comprehensive neurology and epilepsy center opened to serve as a one-stop shopping clinic for all the needs of children with seizure disorders.

The Schmeiding Developmental Center and the Schmeiding Kids First Program opened in Springdale in 1991 with support from the Schmieding Foundation of Springdale. These programs were initially located in Springdale in a trailer, and after several moves were located in a free-standing building adjacent to the hospital in Springdale. This Developmental Center and Kids First Program provided services like their sister programs located in Little Rock.

Other clinical sections in the Department of Pediatrics thrived during these years, including the following: hematology/oncology under the leadership of Dr. Daisilee Berry;  pulmonary medicine under the leadership of Dr. Robert Warren; genetics under multiple leaders; allergy/immunology under the leadership of Dr. Wesley Burks; adolescent medicine under the leadership of Dr. Susan Jay; infectious diseases  under the leadership of Dr. Terry Yamauchi, followed by Dr. Richard Jacobs; endocrinology under the leadership of Dr. Jocelyn Elders and later Dr. Steven Kemp.