The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ $20 million UAMS Health Specialty Center is expected to transform UAMS’ Department of Urology when it opens in the spring.
The 32,000-SF space at 10901 N. Rodney Parham Road in Little Rock will house UAMS’ Urology Clinic, an outpatient surgery center, interventional radiology and a radiology imaging suite.
Dr. Tim Langford, chair of the Department of Urology in the College of Medicine at UAMS, said moving some of the Urology Department from the UAMS campus to the new location will make it easier for patients being treated for benign urology conditions such as kidney stones and erectile dysfunction. Cancer treatment will remain on UAMS’ campus.
The new space in the Premier Medical Plaza will also provide simple access and parking for patients.
“UAMS is a big campus, and it can be challenging for patients to navigate,” said Dr. Michelle W. Krause, interim CEO of UAMS Medical Center and interim senior vice chancellor of UAMS Health. “So to offer clinical experience with surgery procedures, diagnostic imaging, as well as clinic visits in a very convenient location for the patient, is something that we’ve been looking for for some time.”
The new space will also improve conditions for the providers. “Right now, we’re just so limited with space,” Langford said. “It’s just not convenient. It’s not efficient.” He plans to use the modern space with upgraded equipment as a recruiting tool for the Urology Department.
“There’s a huge urological manpower crisis in Arkansas,” Langford said. “We’re actively recruiting and engaging with more faculty members. I can tell you that this facility, when they see it and they hear about it, will get them interested in coming to UAMS.”
When Langford became the chair of the department last year, it had two faculty members. Now it has four and another will start in June. He said the department needs two more faculty members, “and we will continue to grow from there.” In addition, the center will help add urologists to Arkansas, he said. “It could be an opportunity for our residents to get more experience with more space and more faculty.”
The center will have about 50 UAMS employees, 15 exam rooms, four procedure rooms and up to four operating rooms.
It will double the Urology Department’s patient capacity and allow residents to see more patients and provide an array of treatments.
At the facility, providers will be able to offer an MRI fusion biopsy, a “very precise” procedure, Langford said. “We’re adding the newest technology in kidney stone surgery as far as lasers.”
The construction costs will total about $11 million with the equipment costing about $9 million. The general contractor on the project is Clark Contractors LLC of Little Rock. The architect is WER Architects, also of Little Rock.
Nationwide, about 270 urologists graduate annually, but about 500 retire. When Langford started his practice 30 years ago in Arkansas, 75 urologists practiced in the state. Now there are about 55, with half of them older than 55, he said.
But he said that five of UAMS’ urology residents have signed contracts to practice in Arkansas for the next three years.
The center is “really going to be transformative for our department, and … more importantly our patients,” Langford said.