Health Care Professionals Pushing Past Pandemic


Health Care Professionals Pushing Past Pandemic
(Pediatrics Plus)

Whatever their age, whatever their condition, Conway area residents benefit from a variety of health care options that combine to meet their needs.

Not only that, health care is Conway’s biggest employer, with close to 5,300 people working in the industry, according to Data USA. Despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic posed to health care systems everywhere, Conway’s hospitals, clinics and services persevered, continuing to adapt, grow and provide quality care.

Conway Regional Health System serves the growing populations of Faulkner, Conway, Perry, Pope, Yell, Van Buren and Cleburne Counties. Its comprehensive list of services includes cardiac care, orthopedics, cancer care, women’s health, gastroenterology, pain management and surgical services.

Conway Behavioral Health Hospital provides world class psychiatric care to the community and surrounding towns and has been a significant local employer.

Pediatrics Plus offers specialized pediatric health care with autism services and occupational, physical and speech-language therapy.

Baptist Health Medical Center is part of the state’s most comprehensive health care system. The hospital — one of the system’s more than 200 facilities — has 111 beds, eight operating rooms and a Level III trauma center and emergency room.

“Conway is blessed to have a comprehensive, diverse and quality array of health care services available in the backyard of its residents,” said Pediatrics Plus owner Amy Denton. “In fact, Conway is the heart of health care for the north-central Arkansas area. On the flip side, the robust health care industry also plays a significant role in Conway’s economy with the large number of high paying health care jobs that are available for Conway residents. It’s a win-win.”

With 1,800 employees, Conway Regional is one of the city’s largest employers. The hospital forged ahead during the pandemic with its $60 million capital investment in projects that included a new medical office building, expansion of the Conway Regional Greenbrier Family Medicine and Greenbrier therapy clinics, a remodel of the Conway Regional Health & Fitness Center and construction of a state-of-the-art intensive care unit.

Construction is underway on a 16-bed intensive care department as part of a $40 million renovation.

“COVID had utterly disrupted historical trend lines and impacted every aspect of the health care delivery system,” said Matt Troup, president and CEO of Conway Regional Health System. “Regardless, we rest on an over 100-year experience of meeting the health care needs of the communities we serve. Our mission and the reason we exist do not cease – even with a threat like COVID.”

Conway Behavioral Health recently completed its reaccreditation and expanded its Adolescent Inpatient Program to accommodate more adolescents ages 12-17 who need emergency psychiatric treatment. It has enhanced outpatient services to include Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy, which is a valuable option for adults struggling with treatment resistant depression.

“We are always looking at new ways to meet the psychiatric needs of our community through quality treatment, hospital expansion and enhancement of our intensive outpatient services,” CEO Adina Bridges said.

With its growing population of children diagnosed with autism, Denton said Pediatrics Plus has innovated a “farm concept” to provide a functional and engaging therapeutic approach that uses nature in a meaningful way. Farms in Conway and Benton are scheduled to open in the fall.

“With this being our 20th year in business, we are reflecting on what we have learned,” Denton said, “specifically how to remain true to our mission and values while adding and shifting service models to meet both new evidence based practice and the changing needs of our clients.”

Baptist Health Medical Center President Tim Bowen said the pandemic may have forced a shifting of priorities, but it didn’t put a stop to progress.

“I’m proud we still continued to grow and thrive as a new hospital,” he said.

Baptist Health opened and then expanded an inpatient rehab unit, added ICU beds and welcomed new providers and specialists. Baptist Health also partnered with the state of Arkansas to expand its bed capacity by 28.

Staffing and supply chain issues are across-the-board problems for the health care industry, while new COVID-19 variants continue to pose a threat to world health. But those who provide care in the Conway region are applying the lessons they’ve learned the past two years, plus decades of experience, and counting on Conway’s continued support and cooperation.

“One thing that we have learned over the last two years is that we must be poised to meet whatever needs arise quickly and effectively,” Bowen said. “And that doesn't happen by chance, but through planning, dedication, and with a lot of support from our partners in the community.”

A quote from Matt Troup was misattributed in a previous version of this story.