Representatives from Jefferson Regional Medical Center, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin cut the ribbon to officially open the new home for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Family Medical Center located at the corner of west 40th avenue and Mulberry Street Tuesday afternoon.

The family medical center will provide primary healthcare Jefferson County and 10 other counties including, Arkansas, Cleveland, Drew, Garland, Grant, Hot Spring, Lincoln, Lonoke, Prairie, and Saline.

“This is not only a really incredible event for Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, UAMS and JRMC, but also to the state as a whole,” Griffin said. “We all have a vested interest in Arkansas moving forward and Arkansans having a better quality of life and that is a big part of what this is about. People want access to quality healthcare and quality professionals because they want to live a better, longer life -that’s what this is about. Yeah this is brick and mortar, this is about a building obviously, but ultimately it’s about making people’s lives better.”

Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor at UAMS said when the program started, the goal was to train professionals who would work in underserved areas of the state and practice family medicine.

“Seventy percent of the residents we’ve trained have chosen to remain here,” Patterson said. “Half of those are in rural areas.” “Our investment in this facility is a reaffirmation of our commitment to provide excellent health care to communities across the state and strengthen our medical education programs that train tomorrow’s health professionals.

Mark Deal, regional executive director of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences South Central Regional Campus said this institution has been in Pine Bluff since 1973 and was the first location for what was then Area Health Education Center. He said since 1978, UAMS-trained physicians have seen more than one million people on an out-patient basis, and 450,000 on an in-patient basis.

“We had three separate facilities which comprised our program and that presented many logistical issues,” Deal said. “Having everything we need in one building will eliminate a great deal of duplication, which will save money and be more efficient for staff and our patients.”

The bottom two floors of the three-story building will provide room for the merger of UAMS’ three Pine Bluff clinics along with its physician residency program, a medical library, classrooms, and administrative offices. Prior to its recent renovations the building has been unoccupied. In an early press release Brain Thomas, CEO of JRMC said the projected cost for the renovations was $6 million. JRMC operates a clinic on the third floor of the building. UAMS will reimburse Jefferson Medical over a 20-year period.