UAMS Offers Telehealth Services

BTV Residents and Others Across the State Can Use AR-Connect

Kevin Navin

Butterfield residents now have the option to access behavior health services through a University of Arkansas at Medical Sciences (UAMS) program that uses technology to help people and families who’ve been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The UAMS AR-Connect program provides behavioral telehealth care and services to Arkansans across the state by way of tele-video conferencing with UAMS doctors and clinicians.  

AR-Connect provides counseling, therapy, assessments and other services to patients experiencing all forms of mental distress, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and substance abuse – especially those impacts caused or exacerbated by the pandemic.  

For Butterfield residents in particular, the UAMS Clinic at BTV urges anyone experiencing concerns with mental health to come to the clinic in person first. Depending upon a patient’s specific needs, primary care physician Dr. Larry Wright at the BTV clinic can make a referral for the best type of services for the individual. For those comfortable operating a home computer, tablet or smartphone, the AR-Connect option offers easy-to-use tele-video conferencing in the privacy of home. 

Patricia Poertner, BTV senior director of Resident Services, said those who are deemed a good fit for the AR-Connect program receive integrated behavioral health and primary care. These patients are connected with Dr. Jon C. Rubenow, D.O., of the UAMS Psychiatry Clinic in Fayetteville, and UAMS behavioral health counselor, Leigh Wade.  

Poertner said even though many residents have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and restrictions on campus are lifting, the services AR-Connect provides may prove vital and relevant because of ease of access to those who use technology devices. 

“Access to behavioral services is so important for our residents right now, whether they are delivered in person or through a personal device,” Poertner said. “The issues resulting from the pandemic don’t automatically disappear just because restrictions are being lifted and we seem to be returning to a more ‘normal’ life again.” 

Self-isolating for prolonged periods of time over the past 14 months has created anxiety, fear and unprecedented loneliness for some residents, Poertner said. Some have lost friends and loved ones, including partners and spouses. 

“Our residents need to be able to process and work through these experiences and be equipped to get back to living life in a post-pandemic world,” she said. “Having choices for how they receive behavioral services – in a clinic setting or in the security of their own homes – is of critical importance in accomplishing this goal.” 

UAMS rolled out the AR-Connect telehealth program in June 2020 as an urgent response to Covid-19, said Kevin Navin, LSCW and director of Outpatient Programs for Behavioral Health at UAMS.  

“Getting services to patients as they need them is paramount, and this program makes it as easy as logging on,” Navin said. “Individuals who previously didn’t have transportation, or couldn’t leave the home for various reasons, now have an easily accessible avenue for therapy, medication management and other local resources and support.” 

The program also helps patients with anxiety or depression who were previously intimidated by coming to a clinic and sitting in a waiting area, initiate care in a manner they are more comfortable with, Navin said.   

Poertner said BTV residents who want to learn more about various options for receiving mental and behavioral health services may make an appointment with Dr. Wright at (479) 695-8040.  

Anyone interested in learning more about telehealth options can also directly contact the AR-Connect call center, available 24/7, at (501) 526-3563 or (888) 482-9921.