UAMS Seeks Approval for $85 Million Ortho/Sports Medicine Building in Northwest Arkansas


The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) will seek approval Wednesday, March 17 to build an $85 million orthopedic and sports medicine center in northwest Arkansas.

The project review is part of the two-day agenda of the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees meeting starting Wednesday.

According to meeting documents, UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson will recommend Marlon Blackwell Architects with DSC Architects to lead the design of the 185,000 square foot building. Nabholz Construction will be recommended as general contractor.

The building will include up to 12 operating rooms and a limited number of patient beds. The building’s specialist clinics will include sports performance, physiotherapy, orthopedics, imaging, research and education.

UAMS has reserved bond funds to pay for the project, according to the agenda. This is a different path than the one previously discussed at a meeting of the UA System Board of Directors last fall.

In October, the board authorized UAMS to negotiate the terms of a letter of intent to enter into a lease agreement for a new building. The lease was to be with a commercial real estate development company Cushman & Wakefield/Sage Partners at Rogers.

Under the negotiated lease, UAMS would have the option of assuming the outstanding debt on a mutually agreed upon date or purchasing the facility for $1 at the end of a 30-year lease.

The agenda documents for this week’s meeting make no mention of Sage Partners. A UAMS spokeswoman declined to comment ahead of the board meeting.

Over the past year, UAMS has strengthened its orthopedic practice in the region by hiring five surgeons: Wesley Cox, Patrick Brannan, Tyler CarlLee, Navin Kilambi and Chad Songy. They perform surgeries in other facilities.

“These surgeons can only generate professional fees for such cases; the technical/hospital portion of the fee is collected by the facility where the surgery is performed,” UA System President Don Bobbitt wrote in a letter to the board last fall. “If cases could be performed at a UAMS facility, these technical fees would also be underwritten by UAMS, resulting in a projected margin of $3-4 million on the orthopedic practice alone.”

Amanda George, UAMS vice chancellor and chief financial officer, previously said the UAMS orthopedic practice in northwest Arkansas now has an annual deficit of about $3 million.

UAMS currently leases two sites in Lowell and Fayetteville to provide orthopedic clinical services. These clinics would close once the new building opened.

UAMS was also recently announced as a new sports medicine provider for the University of Arkansas Department of Athletics.

Little Rock-based UAMS, the state’s only academic health center, established a northwest Arkansas regional campus in 2007 at the former 323,510-square-foot Washington Regional Medical Center on College Avenue in Fayetteville, but has no surgical center or hospital in the area. UAMS has an additional 400,000 square feet in other centers in northwest Arkansas.

The agenda for this week’s board meeting did not mention a specific site in northwest Arkansas where the UAMS building will be constructed. Still, the speculation would logically lead to the area west of Interstate 49 near the Don Tyson Parkway exit in Springdale. It is a growing medical corridor but there is still plenty of land available for development.

Arkansas Children’s, based in Little Rock, and Highlands Oncology, based in northwest Arkansas, recently built multimillion-dollar facilities in this neighborhood. A 76,000 square foot medical office building for Little Rock-based USAble Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, is under construction in the same area.

A five-story, 80,000-square-foot building called the Center for Children’s Health and Wellness is also under construction near Arkansas Children’s Northwest.

Patterson will also seek board approval to expand the Northwest Arkansas Regional Campus by adding a three-year primary care medical track and a four-year parallel medical track from the academic year 2021-2022.

This would expand the campus for third- and fourth-year medical students to a campus for students in all years of the program. All UAMS College of Medicine students are currently completing their first two years at the Little Rock campus.

“Offering the three-year primary care path in medicine alongside the traditional four-year medical program will reduce the time needed to prepare students and will also reduce the student debt accumulated by these future primary care physicians,” Patterson wrote in a statement. letter on the board.

Primary care will be designed for students who intend to undertake a residency in family medicine, internal medicine or pediatrics. Students would choose the current four-year program or the new parallel three-year primary care program.

UAMS would only offer the primary care parallel track at the Northwest Arkansas campus.

The board meeting begins at 1 p.m. Wednesday.


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