U.S. Senator John Boozman toured the recently opened UAMS Preventative Family Medicine Clinic in Prescott Wednesday afternoon to discuss concerns with local health officials about rural health and healthcare accessibility in the area.
Sen. Boozman was very pleased with the clinic in Prescott especially since he has a medical degree as well.
“I’m an eye doctor by training so I really am interested in this,” he said. “I know we got a great need and we are looking for solutions and I think clinics like this that can provide quality, affordable care are desperately needed and really are one of the answers as we go forward.”
Assistant Director of the Research and Evaluation Division at UAMS, Dr. Nikki Edge, was very excited to have Boozman touring the newly opened facility.
“We are so pleased to get [John Boozman] orientated to the wonderful services that our team has to increase healthcare here in the community along with their incredible community partners,” she said. “I think it’s just an incredible example of the real initiative and creative ways that our team at UAMS are working to increase access in our rural communities.”
Edge was especially excited to have Boozman in town due to all the work he’s done for healthcare since becoming senator in 2011.
“I wanted to acknowledge and thank you for some of the work that you’ve been doing on our behalf in Washington, including you sponsoring legislation to increase the healthcare provider community to meet the needs,” Edge said. “As well as sponsoring legislation and really championing cancer care and better healthcare for our veterans. We are especially excited for all the different healthcare innovations and technology solutions that you have been working on like broadband and telemedicine which are exactly what are needed here in communities like Prescott and all over the state.”
Telemedicine is the access to health-related services and information via electronic communication which has grown a lot since the COVID-19 pandemic, something that Boozman says he’s really excited about.
“We had all of this terrible stuff come because of COVID, but one thing that has surfaced is telehealth and that’s going to really be great for rural Arkansas,” Boozman said. “Specialists are hard to find, but this does offer the ability to get a lot done here as opposed to having to drive two hours to Little Rock. I think this is a great start. Telemental-health is actually working and the VA is doing a really good job in that regard.”
Dr. Latunja Sockwell, a researcher in the Research and Evaluation Division of the Department of Family & Preventive Medicine, says that clinic in Prescott is already offering two different types of telemental-health services.
“We have one with Chenal Family Therapy,” she said. “Even for individuals who don’t have healthcare access, no insurance is required. They have a service set up where you can link in and get free mental health service with an intern. If you do have insurance, they will put it on a sliding scale fee looking at your income to determine if you need to pay anything because a lot of times people do have insurance but can’t afford to pay their copays and that nature.”
After touring the facility, Boozman knew that the clinic will help a lot with the rural community of Prescott and others like it.
“I want to give a special thanks to UAMS,” he said. “Healthcare is so, so very important. Even in a large city, healthcare’s difficult sometimes. This is a real effort to work together to provide the care that we need. I do appreciate the fact that I know that we are going to make this successful.”