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Little Rock psychiatrist Dr. Rhonda Mattox tabbed to lead Arkansas’ longest-serving Black trade association for health professionals

COVID-19 Health

Little Rock psychiatrist Dr. Rhonda Mattox tabbed to lead Arkansas’ longest-serving Black trade association for health professionals


By Wesley Brown – The Arkansas Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association Inc. (AMDPA) earlier this summer announced that Little Rock psychiatrist Dr. Rhonda Mattox would take on the new role as president of the 129-year-old health-focused trade association.

Mattox, who previously served as the association’s president-elect, is the first psychiatrist to lead the organization’s 129-year history. The nonprofit association is devoted to conquering the medical challenges and health disparities at their regular scientific sessions which explore ways to help improve the health of underserved communities.

In an interview with Arkansas Black Vitality concerning the direction of the state’s longest serving Black professional organization under her helm, Dr. Mattox said AMDPA is emerging from the pandemic in a perfect position to address health disparities and inequities caused by COVID-19.

“This is an amazing time to be leading this organization,” stated Dr. Mattox. “The [AMDPA] since 1893 has been serving underrepresented communities in Arkansas and it is the only interprofessional organization of healthcare providers that spans doctors, dentists, pharmacists and physicians, and we even have some physician assistants and physical therapists.

“And part of the reason why that is so important is that when we first joined, we could not be a part of white medical societies, and we’ve continued since then because it is a community, it is an organization that focuses on the disparities and issues and nuances that are related to our community,” said Dr. Mattox.

AMDPA held its annual scientific session entitled “The Practice and Policy of Implementing Health Equity and Prevention” on June 10-11 at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging.

Dr. Mattox is leading the charge of a new community speakers bureau for AMDPA. “There are so many physical and mental issues our community is facing, especially since COVID-19. We felt it was necessary to have our doctors speak and present on as many platforms as possible to ease anxieties and be more accessible to those who don’t get to talk to doctors regularly.”

Mattox is also a board-certified physician with decades of experience in direct patient care. She serves as an integrative behavioral health psychiatrist and mental health consultant to primary care providers across Arkansas. Prior to that, Dr. Mattox was an associate professor with dual appointments in the Department of Family Medicine and Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at UAMS. There she conducted research and served as an integrative behavioral health psychiatrist consultant, teaching family medicine physicians and medical students how to integrate behavioral health into primary care.

At AMDPA’s summer conference, Mattox and former AMPDA President Lanita White, a pharmacist, both offered opening remarks that focused on the health disparities and inequities in the African American community that were magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Following the past two unprecedented years of virtual meetings, this is our first in-person conference in nearly three years. Our delivery of healthcare has undergone immense change and has entered a new era of medicine,” said Dr. Mattox. “These scientific sessions are politically relevant, selecting topics around health justice and equity that are making headlines every day.

“As we fit a three-day conference into one day, we wanted to ensure that we met and addressed challenges of delivering quality health care with an eye on prevention and health equity,” Dr. Mattox concluded.

During Dr. Mattox’s tenure as AMDPA’s new president, the organization will also participate in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national initiative to address COVID-19 related health disparities and advance health equity among populations that are at high-risk and underserved, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural areas.

“Everyone in America should have equal opportunity to be as healthy as possible,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky. “This investment will be monumental in anchoring equity at the center of our nation’s COVID-19 response — and is a key step forward in bringing resources and focus to health inequities that have for far too long persisted in our country.”

First announced in March 2021, the $2.25 billion program represents CDC’s largest investment to support communities affected by COVID-19-related health disparities. In Arkansas, where the program is managed by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), AMDPA is among several organizations that have received grants to advance health equity and address social determinants of health related to COVID-19.

For its part, Mattox said AMDPA is working in partnership with other like-minded organizations across the state to tailor important health-related messaging in rural and urban communities. Some of those partners include the Arkansas Black Mayors Association, the Urban League of Arkansas, and the state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

“So, you’ll be hearing commercials coming out your way about why it is important to get the [COVID-19] vaccine. And we are trying to keep people updated on what’s going on on our weekly radio show that we share the most recent updates about booster vaccines, mental health, or … how to talk to your doctor,” said Mattox. “We are going where people are, so we’re getting into the churches, the media, social media and radio. In essence, what we are trying to do is make people come to us but to go where they are.” 

For more information on AMDPA and its COVID-19 partnership, visit https://www.amdpa.org.

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