WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – Students at Williams Baptist University will soon have direct access to health services from Lawrence Memorial Hospital. The university and the hospital, both located in Walnut Ridge, have signed an agreement to have Lawrence Memorial operate WBU’s on-campus health clinic.
“This is a major step forward in healthcare access for Williams students,” said Dr. Stan Norman, president of WBU. “Our agreement with LMH will greatly expand our capacity to deal with students’ health concerns as soon as they arise, and it affords them first class care from outstanding providers. We are delighted to partner with Lawrence Memorial Hospital on this endeavor.”
Josh Conlee, CEO of Lawrence Healthcare, which is the parent of LMH, says the arrangement will provide WBU students and staff with access to additional services while staying on-campus.
“One benefit in particular is the use of technology to enable onsite telehealth visits with an LMH provider,” Conlee said. “Historically, WBU students and staff would go to the WBU Health Clinic if they were sick, be triaged and then sent to a community provider off-campus to get an exam and work up. Now, they will be able to have a sick call exam and work up at the WBU Health Clinic through the LMH telehealth platform.”
Conlee said LMH will also provide wellness program administration through the WBU Health Clinic, with services including health risk assessments, health education, weight management and mental health services in partnership with existing WBU services. The clinic will also offer basic point of service lab testing for illnesses such as COVID, strep and flu, as well as vaccinations.
“One of our core pillars at Lawrence Healthcare is ‘community,’” said Conlee. “We feel it is necessary to take these extra steps towards making our home a better place. We routinely ask ourselves, ‘who in our community could benefit from our services?’ and we thought that we might be able to provide a value added service to the WBU campus. After talking to the administration at WBU, we found that we could do just that and that is what led us to this partnership.”
Barbara Kee, who was already serving as the school nurse at WBU, will continue in that role as an employee of LMH. The arrangement will give Williams students access to physicians and other staff at Lawrence Memorial, as well. The clinic is located in WBU’s Mabee Student Center.
“It can be a challenging and anxious time for students who get sick while they are away at college,” said Norman. “It is our hope that students and their families will be comforted in knowing that high quality healthcare is available right here on the WBU campus. That means a lot in terms of both good health and peace of mind.”
At LMH, Conlee said the agreement sends an important signal of cooperation to the rest of Lawrence County.
“Healthcare and education are two of the largest assets that make our community special,” Conlee said. “The county’s largest employer is Lawrence Healthcare and serves as the healthcare and economic engine of the county. Williams Baptist University serves as the only higher education agency in the county. This partnership will support Lawrence Healthcare and WBU’s joint efforts to serve our community and show the community that these two entities are working together to do so. This partnership will hopefully serve as an example for other entities in our community to partner together to serve Lawrence County.”
Williams is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge.