The creation of an Area Health Education Center in El Dorado is not expected to affect AHEC operations at UAMS-South in Magnolia.

An announcement last week regarding the re-establishment of an Area Heath Education Center in El Dorado will have little impact on AHEC’s operations at the UAMS-South Center in Magnolia.

The Medical Center of South Arkansas, an El Dorado hospital, disclosed in a publication the return of an AHEC clinic to El Dorado starting in the summer of 2020, and an AHEC program in El Dorado in the fall of 2021.

Magnolia leaders worked aggressively to recruit UAMS-South and AHEC to Magnolia starting in 2010, shortly after the new Magnolia Regional Medical Center opened.

In 2011, UAMS, MRMC and the City of Magnolia worked out a deal to move UAMS-South to the former Sapa office building on North Washington Street.

AHEC operates regional training facilities for doctors, nurse practitioners and other medical professionals. The South Arkansas AHEC had been at the former Warner Brown Hospital in El Dorado since the late 1970s.

The move was facilitated by Medical Center of South Arkansas – the old El Dorado hospital's owner – against renewing a contract allowing AHEC to use the former Warner Brown building due to increased operating expenses.

AHEC opened a clinic in 2012 at the former medical office of Dr. Scott McMahen on Columbia Street while work continued to remodel the Sapa office. UAMS-South opened in 2013.

“There are no plans to discontinue or downsize our Magnolia training program. In fact, we have recently recruited a new residency program director, Dr. Mimo Lemdja, and have welcomed the affiliation of long time Magnolia family physician, Dr. John Alexander,” said Dr. Mark T. Jansen, chief medical officer for UAMS Regional Programs, in response to a email from .

“UAMS Regional Programs is proud of the accomplishments of the UAMS-South program, relocated from El Dorado to Magnolia in 2012. We have a $4 million investment in this (Magnolia) facility and the resident physicians being trained there will help sustain the supply of primary care providers for South Arkansas into the future,” Jansen said.

“There is no plan to downsize the Magnolia program, the number of resident physicians trained there or our staff. If we are successful in establishing a presence in El Dorado, this will function as a single program with two locations. We already operate a co-located single training program at our North West (Arkansas) campus with training sites in Fayetteville and Springdale,” Jansen said.

Jansen said UAMS Regional Programs was approached by the community of El Dorado and MCSA to explore the possibility of returning there to train primary care physicians for the region.

“After several meetings, we have determined that this is a rich opportunity to expand our current program in Magnolia and expand the number of residents in training, incorporating the El Dorado location.

“Future plans are being crafted to expand training in El Dorado and Magnolia, not just for physician providers but nurses, physician assistants and other health related colleges represented on the main campus here in Little Rock. We anticipate a robust clinical presence on the El Dorado hospital campus as we have with our facility in Magnolia,” Jansen said.

“This expansion is an example of UAMS' commitment to tackling the physician shortage in Arkansas. Program sites like the one in Magnolia and the one being proposed in El Dorado will train family medicine physicians in the very community we hope they will remain to practice,” Jansen said.

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