Growth of the Facility

Tom East was hired by Dr. Bob Fiser to be his head administrator in May, 1975, shortly after Dr. Fiser was named chair. Mr. East (audio coming soon) recalled Dr. Fiser and the evolution of the Department in the early years. “Bob had his vision for developing the department and in the beginning everybody else pretty much had to fall in line because he was such a dynamic person, he could sell anything to anybody- legislators, chancellors, presidents, whatever, Board of Trustees — and he did that.

He defined the word passion. He was not going to let “no” stop him. He would always find a way, a different direction perhaps. But to get his vision accomplished, he would find a way to get it done. He had the ability to really pull people in and build a team of people. And he could talk to anyone. He pretty much was friends with everybody he talked to. He loved people. At that time, the department was about 15 faculty members and it was located on the main campus on the 6th floor of the University Hospital building. We w

ere located behind the elevators at that time in a very small office suite. Dr. Fiser was recruiting top notch physicians from all over the United States and I guess one of our big initial headaches was how to expand space wise because there was no way at the UAMS campus at that time in 1975 – there was not much room. So Bob took a huge interest in Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and along with Leland McGuiness, Chief Executive Officer at Children’s Hospital, they partnered together on how to share a facility, space, people, clinics, emergency services, that kind of thing.

In those days, Bob and I would go over to Children’s to sit down with Leland McGuiness and work out how

to pay for things, how to grow things, how quick to do it. At that time the Board of Children’s Hospital was a very significant group of people. It was obvious that it was going to take a lot of fundraising and a lot of effort to make a dream that Bob Fiser had to grow. The first decision to be made was whether to stay at UAMS and expand that program or secondly partner really with Children’s Hospital in a much greater way than had ever been done in the past to enlarge the facilities. At that time Bob was adamant. He had made his mind up that he wanted to move the entire Department of Pediatrics from the main campus to Children’s Hospital which was a pretty radical thought at the time. Dean Tom Bruce preferred that the Department stay at UAMS and he suggested that he would go to the Board of Trustees at the University and try to sell the idea of building a children’s wing on the UAMS campus. The debate went back and forth, and a lot of people were involved in that debate including members of the Board of Children’s Hospital. But ultimately the decision was made at that time to move and everybody pretty much was committed to that concept.

That is what happened, and it is a huge story; it’s a dynamic story about all that took place because there was no money; there were really no facilities at either place at the time. So together a partnership between the two organizations began at that time in the late 1970s. Children’s jumped in and their Board got excited about it – the deal at that time was that they would provide the facilities, the nursing staff and the fundraising for growth. And Bob supported the deal; he would provide the medical professionals to complement that. Bob did an outstanding job of bringing in a large group of fine young physicians. It was known that he could sell snow to a snowman. People knew that Bob had every priority. Everything was a priority for Bob. It was hard for people, me included, and other more administrative business folks to keep up with that. Because he was often off in every direction; he knew what he was doing but it was hard for a lot of people to keep up with that growth pattern that he established and that we tried to carry out. I think one of the main events that stands out for me would be the weeks and months thThe blue houseat we moved formally and officially to Children’s Hospital. We started back in the late 1970s, working with Children’s to free up more space and they would gradually buy houses close to the hospital for physician offices.

We gradually moved physicians over, Bob and I and the administrative team stayed at UAMS until the last at which point we pretty much said today we are moving from UAMS to Children’s Hospital officially. That was probably a proud moment and I think a very happy moment that Bob and I both had of finally seeing it come together that one goal had been met.” Dr. Arrington recalled “Bob Fiser moved over there in 1977 and then he began to move the rest of us over there and I moved over there; I was in the “blue house.” One of the Pulmonologists named Bob Warren was in the “blue house” and one of the General Pediatricians named Bob Glenn was in the “blue house.” So Bob Fiser, Bob Glenn, Bob Warren, and Bob Arrington were in the “blue house” so it was called the “Bobsy House.” There were other houses- one where the surgeons were, one for the orthopedic surgeons. They started bringing in portable buildings and making offices in the portable buildings.”