UAMS gets grants for COVID-19 testing

LITTLE ROCK — Two grants totaling $210,848 from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas will significantly boost the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ (UAMS) efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and slow the spread of infection.

The grants are part of a $1.7 million special funding program by the foundation, a charitable foundation established and funded by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, for nonprofit organizations around the state as a rapid-response relief effort.

A grant of $150,000 will support the COVID-19 Support Fund, which was established by UAMS to cover costs associated with screening, testing and treating patients with COVID-19, specifically items such as personal protective equipment like gloves, gowns and masks, as well as thermometers. The fund also covers many other efforts preventing the spread of the virus or helping communities deal with its effects.

Another grant of $60,848 supports a mobile triage unit for expanding COVID-19 screening and testing to underserved Arkansas communities. Since early April, mobile screening events have been held in Helena-West Helena, Texarkana, Forrest City, McGehee, Marianna and Camden, with more being scheduled.

“We are tremendously grateful to the Blue & You Foundation for this gift, which will help UAMS test and treat Arkansans across the state as we continue our fight against COVID-19,” said Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA. “I couldn’t be more proud of our entire health care team, which has responded to this pandemic with speed, ingenuity and compassion.”

“Recognizing the tremendous health, economic and social needs created by the coronavirus pandemic and that we must act with a greater sense of urgency to help struggling communities and their citizens, the Blue & You Foundation is proud to support UAMS in its fight against this public health emergency,” said Patrick O’Sullivan, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation.

“Whether from our own personal experiences or from what we see and hear in the news each day, it’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic has become not just a public health crisis but also an economic and social crisis that’s impacting every part of our lives,” said Curtis Barnett, Arkansas Blue Cross president and chief executive officer. “As we have for more than 70 years, we’re here for Arkansans, providing critical funds for our communities. We are working closely with our customers and state agencies to monitor needs and respond.”

Arkansas Blue Cross established the Blue & You Foundation in 2001. Since then, it has awarded more than $36 million to nonprofits and governmental agencies for 1,922 health-improvement programs in 248 communities and in all 75 Arkansas counties.

UAMS has set up a drive-thru triage screening area at the corner of Sheffield and Jack Stephens Drive (across from the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute). It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This is designed to quickly and safely screen people with cough, fever, shortness of breath, flu or COVID-19.

For the latest information on COVID-19, visit UAMShealth.com/coronavirus. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is encouraged to call the UAMS coronavirus hotline at 800-632-4502. An online screening tool is available at UAMShealth.com/healthnow. This service is available 24/7 to Arkansans of all ages and is accessible via smart phone, tablet, laptop or video-capable computer.