Arkansas Rural Health Partnership names new CEO

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 516 views 

The Arkansas Rural Health Partnership (ARHP) has named Rex Jones as its new CEO, while former CEO Mellie Bridewell will continue to serve as president of the nonprofit.

ARHP is a nonprofit organization comprised of 14 rural hospital members, including Ashley County Medical Center, Baptist Health Stuttgart, Bradley County Medical Center, Chicot Memorial Medical Center, Dallas County Medical Center, Delta Memorial Hospital, DeWitt Hospital and Nursing Home, Drew Memorial Health System, Helena Regional Medical Center, Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Magnolia Regional Medical Center, McGehee Hospital, Medical Centers of South Arkansas and Ouachita Regional Medical Center.

It also includes two Federally Qualified Health Systems (Mainline Health Systems and Mid Delta Health System), 92 owned/affiliated clinics and UAMS.

Bridewell will maintain her position at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), which is a partner in the ARHP, as a regional director in the Office of Strategy Management. As ARHP’s CEO, Jones will work with the UAMS strategy team on initiatives and collaborations focused on improving health care access and delivery in rural Arkansas.

“The Arkansas Rural Health Partnership has seen tremendous growth over the years, and under Bridewell’s leadership, we continue to add greater value to the rural health providers within the partnership,” said Brian Thomas, chairman of the organization’s board of directors. “On behalf of myself and my fellow board members, we are pleased to see the addition of Rex Jones and his leadership to the team. Together, he and Mellie will lead this great organization to new heights.”

Jones comes to ARHP from Magnolia Regional Medical Center, where he was the chief executive officer, a position he has held since 2016. He also has served on the AHRP board of directors for eight years, including a stint as the board’s president from 2015 to 2016. A hospital administrator for 25 years, Jones has led rural hospitals in three states.

“As a rural hospital CEO and as a ARHP board member, Rex will bring the perspective and commitment needed as ARHP CEO to sustain and improve delivery of quality health care in south Arkansas,” said Stephanie Gardner, Pharm.D., Ed.D., UAMS provost and chief strategy officer. “We are grateful for Mellie’s tireless advocacy for rural communities and their health care needs during her tenure as the partnership’s CEO, and we are glad that as she steps into the role of ARHP president, we will not lose her energy or insight.”

Despite the impacts of COVID-19, the ARHP has experienced exponential growth within the past few years, including the addition of new rural hospital members, cross-sectional partners, a significant increase in grant and contract funding, and various new programs and services benefiting the health and wellness of rural residents.