The inaugural edition of Arkansas Money & Politics’ Outstanding Health Care Professionals features some of the state’s finest in the field of medicine. For the last three months, AMP has received hundreds of nominations and thousands of votes for those who would be considered the most outstanding hospital CEO, physician, nurse, small and large hospital, mental health facility, insurance provider, nurse practitioner, as well as women’s, men’s and children’s health provider, lifetime achievement, volunteerism, and best place to work. The following health care professionals and institutions represent the best in their respective category, as chosen by their peers from across the state of Arkansas.
Medical Center of South Arkansas
Scott Street was appointed chief executive officer of Medical Center of South Arkansas just 14 months ago. The Cherokee Village native joined the 145-physician, 166-bed general acute care hospital in El Dorado the day before Halloween 2017. Street has 30 years of hospital management experience and is known for employing a collaborative leadership style to expand services and improve standards. He has a master’s degree in health care administration from the University of Missouri and a bachelor’s in business administration from Ouachita Baptist University.
“I am deeply grateful for this recognition,” Street says. “Healthcare is a ‘team sport,’ and it is my privilege to work with compassionate staff, engaged Board of Trustees and dedicated medical staff members. The last year has been an exciting and energizing one for our team. We have focused on enhancing our patients’ experiences within the hospital and on building a cohesive team with a shared vision of destination healthcare. In 2018, we expanded with new equipment, new service lines, new alliances and new providers to our region. In 2019, our multi-million-dollar renovation projects will continue to bring much needed services to a population who deserves quality healthcare close to home.”
Dr. Ali Krisht
CHI St. Vincent
Ali Krisht, co-founder and director of the Arkansas Neuroscience Institute (ANI) at CHI St. Vincent, is known around the world for his work on rare brain tumors that most surgeons would describe as inoperable. Patients from 38 states and all 75 Arkansas counties have sought the world-class care at the ANI, and neurosurgeons and medical students from around the world travel to Little Rock to study alongside him learning how to perform similar surgeries back home. This spring, CHI St. Vincent will complete a near $30 million facility in Sherwood to house the ANI. Krisht says it will draw patients from across the state, country and globe to Central Arkansas for treatment.
Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas
Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas (MANA) is an independent physician group that includes family medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, and an array of specialists and health services. It traces its roots back to 1957, but their dedication to and reputation for women’s health has been growing for the last 15 years. In 2003, Drs. Danna Grear and Kevin Pope established The Breast Center, the state’s first independent breast imaging facility. It was the first in Northwest Arkansas to offer digital mammography, first in the state to offer breast MRI with world-renowned radiologist Steven Harms and the only practice in the state to offer automated whole breast ultrasound screening. In 2005, Kathleen Paulson opened Renaissance Women’s Healthcare, dedicated to educating women about their health from their first gynecology appointment through menopause.
“Our mission is to improve quality of life by providing compassionate, comprehensive, quality healthcare,” says MANA CEO Jason Wilson. “We believe in working with our peers inside MANA and outside of our group to provide the best possible outcomes for our patients. Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas is honored to receive the Outstanding Women’s Health award from Arkansas Money and Politics.”
Dr. John Brizzolara
Saline Memorial Hospital
John Brizzolara is a nationally recognized urologist at Brizzolara Urology & Associates, an affiliate of Saline Health System. A leader in the developments of minimally invasive techniques for the correction of discomfort caused by urinary health problems, he is well respected by urologists, gynecologists and uro-gynecologists across the country. His goal is to help ease patients’ discomfort caused by urinary health problems and help them get back to the life they want to live. Brizzolara Urology and Associates is located in Benton and serves Little Rock, Bryant, Harmony Grove, Bauxite, Sheridan, Hot Springs Village, Hot Springs and other surrounding communities.
“I love what I do and am very lucky to be able to call this ‘work’ — it doesn’t feel like work,” Brizzolara says. “I truly enjoy getting to know my patients and learning about their families. It’s a privilege to care for each and every one of my patients.”
Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) is among the largest pediatric hospitals in the United States and serves children from birth to age 21. ACH’s staff consists of more than 505 physicians, 200 residents and 4,400 support staff. The hospital, which features a Level I Trauma Center, has 336 beds and offers three intensive care units. The campus spans 36 city blocks and has a floor space of more than 2 million square feet. It is affiliated with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and is a teaching hospital with the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics.
“Arkansas Children’s is thrilled to receive this honor, which recognizes the hard work our teams pour into our mission, making children better today and healthier tomorrow,” says Marcy Doderer, president and CEO of the Arkansas Children’s health system. “Our team is motivated by four values: safety, teamwork, compassion and excellence. Those values inform every decision and every action, from the aggressive pursuit of zero hospital infections to treating each family with dignity, kindness and concern.”
Cornerstone Clinic for Women
Since 2000, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Lisa Grummer has been caring for patients at Cornerstone Clinic for Women. Grummer earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Arkansas and master’s in nursing at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. As a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, she is certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She says she felt called to women’s health. While she doesn’t deliver babies, she provides patients prenatal care, wellness exams, and treatment for treating gynecologic issues at Cornerstone’s state-of-the-art facility in Little Rock.
“I am honored to be recognized for a career I love,” Grummer says. “From a personal perspective my own journey in infertility, adoption of my two children and conquering breast cancer have all been an integral part in my relationship with my patients. I love the nurturing aspects of being a practitioner coupled with the opportunity to be a leader in guiding patients to be active in their healthcare needs.”
Arkansas Heart Hospital
When Arkansas Heart Hospital opened in 1997, its goal was to rival world-renowned names, like Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and Lennox Hill, through innovation that would separate it from the competition. Today, it operates 30 clinics statewide, seven catheterization labs, three heart-operating suites and a 24-hour Heart Emergency Center and is a nationally recognized and award-winning 112-bed hospital dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. The hospital has been recognized for being in the Top 1 percent of hospitals in the United States for patient satisfaction. Outstanding staff, like nurse practitioner Cassidy Estes, DPN, APRN, FNP-BC, have helped set the hospital apart. Cassidy Estes is a doctorally prepared Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). She completed her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in May of 2015, as part of the College of Nursing’s inaugural class at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).
Lifetime Achievement Award
Dr. Kent Westbrook
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Surgical oncologist Kent Westbrook has made a career of helping Arkansans fight cancer. A professor in the in the Department of Surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Westbrook co-founded the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, now known as the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, and was its director from 1984-1998.
“We raised money, recruited faculty, and implemented the multi-disciplinary programs that make up the Cancer Institute,” Westbrook says.
After stepping down as director in 1998, he served in numerous roles including chairman of the Department of Surgery from 1999-2002, Arkansas Trauma System medical director from 2007-2009, interim vice chancellor for development in 2011, and chairman of the Department of Dermatology from 2014-2015. He continues to work daily as a teacher, advisor, fundraiser and clinician.
“It is exciting to be recognized for doing what I love. The opportunity to care for others when they are sick, afraid, and in need is amazing,” Westbrook says. “Rewards occur every day with every patient and family. Long-term rewards occur when good change is produced in the system. I have been able to participate in that change. I am grateful to be a doctor and to receive this award.
“I look forward to the time when all Americans will have easy access to good health care.”
University of Arkansas for
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the state’s only comprehensive academic medical center, plays an enormous role in educating the state’s physician workforce, producing nearly half of the state’s practicing physicians and 60 percent of its rural doctors. With 2,727 students, 870 medical residents, and 1,438 faculty members UAMS is one of the state’s greatest economic engines, generating $2.65 billion in economic activity statewide.
“As the state’s only health sciences university, with five colleges, a graduate school, an academic medical center and eight regional campuses, UAMS trains the majority of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals across the state,” says Cam Patterson, a renowned cardiologist and health care administrator who became chancellor June 1, 2018. “We are here for Arkansas — educating the health professions workforce of the future, providing care not routinely available in a community setting, and performing and translating research to treatments and economic development.
“I’m proud of the work being done by our talented team of caring professionals and their exceptional accomplishments that have earned this recognition.”
After a 26-year executive career with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Pat Curran went on to fulfill her passion for service and lifelong learning by pursuing a new career in nursing. She earned an associate’s degree from Northwest Arkansas Community College and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Arkansas. In 2014, she joined Mercy Northwest Arkansas as a registered nurse in the cardiac critical care unit. Today, she impacts the lives of Mercy patients and people across Northwest Arkansas as a volunteer registered nurse with Mercy’s Community Outreach program and in its newborn nursery. Additionally, she serves on the Mercy Health Foundation Board of Directors.
“I’m so honored to be recognized by Arkansas Money & Politics as the Outstanding Volunteer in Health Care,” Curran says. “It’s a privilege be selected by my peers, whose talents, dedication and passionate care of patients make a difference every day.
“Health care is our calling and we are living life with a purpose. I am blessed to be given the opportunity to care for Mercy’s littlest patients. They are a true miracle of life.”
Best Place to Work
Conway Regional Medical Center
Conway Regional Health System provides complete health care services to the growing communities of northern central Arkansas. Centered on a not-for-profit, 150-bed, acute care medical center, the health system has more than 200 physicians on the medical staff and more than 1,200 employees.
Conway Regional Health serves the people of Central Arkansas by providing top quality medical care in a supportive environment and rapidly refining our services to meet the changing needs of our community.
“This honor speaks volumes for our future and is a validation of our culture at Conway Regional,” says Matt Troup, president and CEO of Conway Regional Health System. “This Best Place to Work award helps confirm the high quality of our team and the exceptional work that they do every day. I am so proud of the passion and commitment shown by our staff. Healthcare is a calling and our staff reflects that boldly in their commitment to our patients and the community.”
NEA Baptist Memorial
While it may have won the small hospital category, big things are happening at NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital in Jonesboro. The 228-bed hospital provides a wide range of medical care services and treatments using high quality diagnostic and therapeutic technologies in a six-story, 500,000- square-foot facility. In 2017, the last year in which statistics are available, NEA Baptist Memorial had 40,598 ER visits, 10,360 discharges, 7,522 surgeries, 696 births, and an average daily census of 135.
“We’re honored to be recognized for this award,” says Brad Parsons, CEO and administrator of NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital. “NEA Baptist has seen tremendous growth, doubling in size in the last five years. We continually work on improving health care for our patients and their families by providing the right care, at the right time, at the right place, and at the right cost. This recognition acknowledges our 2,000 employees and the hard work they do every day toward our mission.”
As Northwest Arkansas’ only not-for-profit, community-owned and locally governed medical center, Washington Regional is able to reinvest its earnings in advanced technology, skilled providers and updated facilities in order to continually improve care for its patients. That means the 425-bed hospital is able to give care to those who might not be able to afford it and provide lifesaving services for which they are not fully reimbursed by government programs. Washington Regional’s success has allowed it to add many programs and facilities, including its Total Joint Center for joint replacement patients, Women and Infants Center, and William L. Bradley Medical Plaza, and receive many accolades, including being named one of the nation’s Best Regional Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report and earning a Gold Seal of Approval from the Joint Commission, the leading accrediting agency of healthcare organizations in the United States.
“At Washington Regional, our mission is to improve the health of the people in the communities we serve through compassionate, high quality care, prevention and wellness education,” says Natalie Hardin, Washington Regional’s director of marketing and public relations. “We were honored to be recognized for our strategy, innovation, and performance improvement activities – all guided by the needs of our community, our desire to provide safe and affordable healthcare, and our focus on quality care and customer service.”
North Little Rock
The BridgeWay is committed to providing the highest quality of care to its patients and their families, as well as the communities in which they live, through a continuum of services designed to help children, adolescents, and adults who are experiencing behavioral, emotional, or addictive problems. Its team of mental health professionals includes board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrists, master’s-level clinical therapists, case managers, and nurses and mental health associates who help people lead productive lives. It is the only psychiatric hospital in Arkansas with distinct programs for seniors 55 and older, adults 18 and older, adolescents, ages 13-17, and children, ages 4-12.
“Since mental health issues occur across a spectrum, we tailor our services for each person,” says BridgeWay’s Director of Business Development Bruce Trimble. “With each program, we offer diagnostic and evaluation services, medication management, individual, family and group therapy, recreational therapy, dietary services, case management and discharge planning. We will never lose sight of the fact that we provide care and comfort to people in need.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the largest health insurer in Arkansas. An Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, it is a not-for-profit mutual insurance company owned by its policyholders, not by stockholders. Founded in 1948, its mission is to improve the health, financial security and peace of mind of the members and communities it serves. The company’s nearly 2,800 employees offer plans for group health, dental, vision, low-cost health coverage for Arkansans under age 65 who are not on Medicare and health and prescriptions drug plans for the Medicare-eligible.
Arkansas Blue Cross operates full-service regional sales and service centers serving seven designated geographic areas of the state. The centers, headquartered in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Hot Springs, Little Rock, Jonesboro, Pine Bluff and Texarkana, offer sales, customer service, medical management and provider relations services to counties in their parts of the state.