A recent Insider item about private child-care companies with connections to former state Sen. Nick Wilson of Pocahontas did not give a complete picture of the companies’ receipts of public funds. Using state Department of Human Services records, we reported that AAA Therapy of 8023 Interstate 30 received $205,933 in Medicaid funds from DHS in the last fiscal year, and has received $112,128 this fiscal year. A related company at the same address, Full Potential Child Development, has received $135,469 this fiscal year. Roger Baker is listed as incorporator and president of both firms and Kirk Wilson, Nick Wilson’s son, is listed as secretary and treasurer. We quoted DHS as saying that a third company at the same address, Child Care Connections, had received no Medicaid money. That’s true, but we’ve since learned that Child Care Connections, though privately owned, is fully funded by DHS. Child Care Connections has two contracts with DHS totaling $773,938 in the current fiscal year. Nick Wilson, who has been seen at the companies’ offices, says he’s only a volunteer doing menial work. He served a federal prison sentence for defrauding government programs.
A tenured professor who has been on staff at UAMS for 34 years, a research assistant and the development officer have fired from AHEC (Area Health Education Centers).
Dr. Steve Strode, 59, director of research and professional development, said he was “certainly surprised” by his firing by new AHEC director Dr. Mark Mengel. Strode said the firings were due to budgetary pressure which he believes could be caused by cost overruns in the construction of the new hospital tower at UAMS.
Also fired were Donna McNair, director of the AHEC Foundation fund, and JoAnn Gartman, a program assistant. Strode and Gartman were working on disaster preparedness training for health professionals throughout the state. Grant money for the program expired. Strode was listed as among the top family practice doctors in Arkansas by the national survey group Best Doctors in 2007.
Mengel was out of town and could not be reached for comment.