September 28, 2023, Fayetteville, AR – The doctors and staff at Northwest Arkansas Pediatrics, A MANA Clinic, are celebrating their 40th anniversary of providing compassionate, quality care to children and their families in Northwest Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas Pediatrics (NWAP) is the largest pediatric group in Arkansas, with 19 pediatricians on staff with locations in Fayetteville and Rogers.
The practice began in 1983 when Dr. Joe T. Robinson and Dr. Terry Payton opened a pediatric clinic in Colt Square in Fayetteville. The practice led to great change in pediatric medicine in Northwest Arkansas, including new preventative and treatment access for patients.
When Drs. Robinson and Payton finished their pediatric residency at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, they knew they wanted to create a clinic in Fayetteville where all parents could easily access excellent pediatric care for their children when needed. Their clinic was the first in the area to have separate well and sick lobbies and care areas to prevent cross-contamination. This was especially important in the early eighties because of communicable diseases that are now virtually obsolete due to vaccines. These include the invention of vaccines such as Hib (1987), Varicella/Chickenpox (1995), and Pneumococcal (2000) which are still used today.
Another way the practice catered to busy parents was by offering evening hours for sick children. They continue this service to patients today with an acute care walk-in clinic with evening and Saturday hours.
The pediatricians’ relationship with academic centers and pediatric residencies throughout the nation have helped them recruit top physicians to join their private practice in Northwest Arkansas. NWAP continues to add new pediatric partners every couple of years to meet the community’s needs. Often, pediatric residents reach out to them and ask about an opening. Applicants with similar values who provide evidence-based medicine continue to join the growing practice.
Dr. Charles Ball, Dr. David Jackson, and Dr. Tim Grear joined during the practice’s first decade and remained until retirement.
Dr. Meredith Mahan, Dr. Stacy Furlow, Dr. Laureen Benafield, Dr. Brent Silvey, Dr. Sean Livingston, Dr. Orrin Davis, Dr. James Swindle, Dr. John Simmons, Dr. Josephine Park, and Dr. Virginia Thomas joined the practice from 1997 to 2010.
Dr. Andrew Koehler, Dr. Daniel Rasmussen, Dr. Liz Lewis, Dr. Blayne Ferebee, Dr. Grant Gaines, Dr. Whitney Alexander, Dr. Kody Nichols, Dr. Amy Randall, and Dr. Matt Bradley joined between 2011 and 2023.
One of the reasons the practice sustained and remained independent was by joining with other private practices in Northwest Arkansas to form MANA Medical Associates in 1999. By joining other practices, they could share costs and resources to effectively manage their practice while remaining focused on providing excellent patient care to the people in Northwest Arkansas.
In 2008, NWA Pediatrics built the state’s first free-standing pediatric wellness clinic at 3383 N. MANA Court in Fayetteville. The Wellness Clinic is located next door to the Acute Care and Walk-In Clinic at 3380 Futrall Drive. In 2010, NWA Pediatrics expanded to Benton County. The clinic was located in Lowell, but the practice outgrew the space and built a new building further north at 3730 N. Pinnacle Hills Parkway in Rogers in 2018. The pediatricians continue to rotate between the Fayetteville and Rogers locations.
“It is a privilege to work at the clinic that Drs. Robinson and Payton created 40 years ago. Loving children and their families is a blessing, and I am so proud to be part of this team,” says Dr. Grant Gaines. This attracts a fun group of doctors, nurses, and support staff who connect with children and help them feel comfortable at the clinic. “Dr. Payton used to wear roller skates to the clinic to entertain the children,” said Marilyn Tate, the clinic manager for 35 years. The doctors would also dress up in costumes to delight the children; the staff continues that tradition today. “Halloween is not a bad time to have a check-up and visit the clinic,” admits Kristina Sherril, Clinical Operations Manager.