About 50 health-care professionals from around south Arkansas and north Louisiana were in attendance for Tuesday’s Health-Care Industry Forum, hosted by South Arkansas Community College and the SouthArk Foundation, at the Medical Center of South Arkansas.
The forum’s purpose, according to Dr. George Roberts, SouthArk’s dean of health and natural sciences, was for the college to receive feedback from the area’s health-industry professionals in order to further develop program curricula.
“Our idea is to be proactive and let you tell us what it is you need from us,” Roberts said, noting that such dialogues are a necessity if success is to be achieved by either the educational arm or the professional arm of the health-care industry.
Shirley White, the director of human resources at Ashley County Medical Center in Crossett, told SouthArk representatives that the college is doing a superlative job at educating its health-sciences students.
“I’ve learned from the past that you do listen,” she said in the meeting. “Keep up the good work, please.”
White’s compliments were echoed by other health-care professionals who were represented, ranging from optometrists to respiratory therapists.
“We think we do a good job, most of you tell us that we are doing a good job, in the quality of students that we turn out to you,” Roberts said.
Bob LaPage, a health-care consultant at Clements Group, conducted the forum, calling it an opportunity for “alignment” between SouthArk and the area’s service providers.
“Today’s session is listening and learning from you as health-care leaders,” LaPage said.
Discussed in the forum were both current and future challenges for the industry, as well as changes in health-care demands, in the area.
More than 40 percent of South Arkansas Community College students are in health-sciences programs, according to vice president of academic affairs Dr. Val Cantu.
“If we have a niche, that’s our niche,” he said.
Among other features, SouthArk provides the only physical-therapist assistant program in the region, recently received accreditation for its surgical technology program and boasts the largest enrollment for its emergency medical technician program of any institution in the State of Arkansas.
Additionally, a new health-sciences building is set to break ground at the college soon.
Union, Bradley, Ashley and Chicot Counties are part of SouthArk’s state-defined service area.
South Arkansas Community College health-sciences dean Dr. George Roberts, far left, greets Medical Center of South Arkansas chief executive America Ferrell, far right, at the SouthArk Health-Care Industry Forum on Tuesday, as MCSA respiratory department director Don Senterfitt looks on.
Bob LaPage of the Clements Group, a health-care consultant, moderates the South Arkansas Community College Health-Care Industry Forum at the Medical Center of South Arkansas on Tuesday.