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Fayetteville City Council approves funding for 7hills Homeless Center, the Arkansas Perinatal Quality Collaborative


Fayetteville City Council approves 7hills funding

Fayetteville City Council voted unanimously to approve more than $1.6 million in funds to 7hills Homeless Center to address housing instability. The council received two requests for the remainder of the city’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act federal funding. 7hills’ proposal includes a plan to convert some of their dorms to an overnight shelter that would be able to help transition people into permanent housing, buying and renovating two triplexes, and continuing to partner with other community organizations.

Arkansas hospitals form Arkansas Perinatal Quality Collaborative

Mercy Hospital Northwest and Mercy Fort Smith are joining with more than 30 other hospitals in the state to form the Arkansas Perinatal Quality Collaborative. The collaborative will work to reduce maternal mortality rates in the state by focusing on preventable cesarean deliveries for low-risk pregnancies. Dr. Dianna Juarez, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist at Mercy Northwest said improved access and education are part of the collaboration.

"One of the cool things about this collaborative is it provides, I keep using the term evidence-based medicine evidence-based practice, but it certainly provides information for health care workers, health care providers at all levels in the health care system as well as for patients and in the community," Dr. Juarez said. "So, I think this can certainly help reduce any complications associated with labor."

The US Centers for Disease and Control ranks Arkansas 14th in the country in most cesarean deliveries.  Arkansas also ranks among the worst in the nation in maternal health.  Dr. Juarez said maternal health should be thought of holistically and in the long term.
"Prior to pregnancies, making sure the patient is the healthiest that they can be— having a good diet and exercise habits and then continuing those throughout pregnancy," Dr. Juarez said. "I think those are some of the most important things that patients should be doing."

The collaborative expects to work with hospitals in Arkansas for the next two years to reduce the number of cesarean deliveries.

University of Arkansas Fort Smith receives grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration

The University of Arkansas Fort Smith is receiving a $130,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The award will help establish and operate an Economic Development Administration-designated University Center. Kendall Ross, executive director of the UAFS School for Economic Development, said the center already operates the Center for Business and Professional Development, the Family Enterprise Center and the Arkansas Small Business and Development Center. He said the grant will help expand the center’s work.

"I think this is going to be significant for us University of Arkansas Fort Smith," Ross said. "This will allow us to expand our services that we currently offer. And I think it will be very beneficial for not only the river valley area but the state of Arkansas as well."

Ross said the grant will also allow UAFS to further collaborate with community partners.

"So how do we how do we leverage the resources that we have along with the leveraged resources of private entities? And then how do we come alongside these businesses and industry that are in our area and help them sustain their economic development too," Ross said.

This announcement comes as part of a broader initiative by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, which is providing a total of $16.5 million in grants to colleges and universities across 14 states. These institutions are selected to leverage their assets, promote innovation, and strengthen regional economies. Ross said that fits into the UAFS mission.

"With this new university center grant, we are really going to focus on that entrepreneurship side," Ross said. "We're going to focus on the workforce development side. And then we're going to focus on technical assistance to anyone that might need it. So strategic planning, efficiency of operations, things of that nature. We're happy to help."

The UAFS economic outreach is available for residents of Oklahoma as well as Arkansas. More information can be found at their website.

Naxolone prescription fills triple

Prescription fills of the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone have tripled over the last year in Northwest Arkansas. That’s according to research gathered by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement. The increase follows the implementation of Act 651, a law passed in 2021 that requires healthcare providers in the state prescribe naloxone when also prescribing high-dose opioids. ACHI found that naloxone prescriptions jumped from just over a thousand to more than 3,700 from fiscal year 2021 to fiscal year 2022 in Benton, Carroll, Madison, and Washington counties.

Dr. Joe Thompson, CEO of ACHI, said in a press release that the challenge remains significant and there is more work to do to reduce the number of Arkansans dying from opioid overdoses. Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration announced the approval of an over-the-counter version of naloxone, which is now available in pharmacies and other retailers.

Mount Sequoyah Center coffee shop approved

A commercial coffee shop on Mount Sequoyah Center was unanimously approved last week by the Fayetteville Planning Commission. This comes after a plan to rezone the nonprofit center was scaled back in April. The coffee shop will be located inside the Ozark building near the center’s main entrance off Assembly Drive. The new zoning for the coffee shop is Neighborhood Services General, which limits building heights to three stories tall. 

The next step is a vote by Fayetteville City Council. If approved, Mount Sequoyah board president Emily Gentry said she will solicit a commercial partner to operate the coffee shop.

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Jacqueline Froelich is an investigative reporter and news producer for <i>Ozarks at Large.</i>
Kyle Kellams is KUAF's news director and host of Ozarks at Large.
Matthew Moore is senior producer for Ozarks at Large.
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