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Seeds of CARTI Planted 44 Years Ago

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The seeds of CARTI were planted in 1968, when central Arkansas hospital administrators and radiologists dreamed up the idea of building a central facility to treat cancer patients, according to a 1976 article in the Arkansas Gazette.

At the time, there was inadequate radiation therapy in Arkansas and patients had to travel to St. Louis or Houston for treatment.

The idea to build a facility gained steam, and, ac-cording to a 1970 Gazette report, St. Vincent Infirmary, the University of Arkansas Medical Center and Baptist Medical Center each put up $10,000 in 1969 to plan for what would be CARTI. The Little Rock Veterans Administration Hospital also participated in CARTI.

“This is the first time in the country where hospitals and radiologists have voluntarily gotten together to establish an institution of this type or provide this type of service,” Sam Butler, chairman of the CARTI’s board, told the Gazette in 1970.

By joining forces, the hospitals were able to pool their resources “to provide better care than would be possible for any single institution,” the 1970 article said.

See Also: CARTI’s New Plan Upsets Decades-long Relationship

“At the time, you needed a number of different machines to treat all the different types of cancer,” Burford said. So CARTI made sense for the community.

CARTI opened in April 1976 on the campus of St. Vincent Infirmary.

Dr. Joseph Calhoun, who in 1976 was the chairman of the CARTI board, said at the time that he knew of “no other radiation therapy facility with as much modern equipment under one roof with the possible exception of Houston and New York.”

CARTI continued growing throughout the 1980s, and a turning point came when Searcy medical officials asked CARTI to put a satellite location in the White County seat.

CARTI’s leadership team agreed to open the facility in August 1988. About a year later, CARTI’s satellite office in Mountain Home opened.

“It’s been a successful strategy for us,” Burford said.

And between August 1996 and April 2001, CARTI opened satellite locations in Conway, North Little Rock and on the campuses of Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock and UAMS.

Over the years, the ma-chines providing radiation therapy became cheaper, and one machine could handle treatments for nearly all of the cancers.


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