Ben E. Owens, recently retired president of St. Bernards Healthcare in Jonesboro, was recognized earlier this week by the Arkansas Hospital Association at that group’s annual meeting in Little Rock.
Owens was one of three Arkansans who received the Distinguished Service Award from the AHA. He was honored for “providing leadership, vision and commitment to St. Bernards, to the state and to regional planning councils, advisory boards and healthcare organizations.”
The award is presented each year to individuals who, while not necessarily AHA members, have promoted a cause of the healthcare industry, thereby becoming entitled to special recognition.
Owens is a former chairman of the AHA, a former regent for the American College of Healthcare Executives and a longtime trustee for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. He also served as president of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Parents Club.
The Lawrence County native was equally active in community affairs, having served in the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce, the Jonesboro Central Planning Commission, the Jonesboro Airport Commission and the Downtown Improvement District. In addition, he served on advisory boards of institutions such as the Arkansas State University College of Business, the ASU College of Nursing and Health Professions, the UAMS Area Health Education Center-Northeast and more.
Owens was nominated for the award because of the impact he has had on the development of healthcare in Arkansas. During his healthcare management career – something that spanned half a century – he has served on numerous boards, commissions, committees and councils that had oversight of healthcare planning and development in Arkansas.
He began his work in healthcare while still a student at what was then Arkansas College in Batesville and moved to Jonesboro to assume duties at administrator at St. Bernards Hospital in 1972. He retired Aug. 1 after 38 years at the helm of St. Bernards. In addition to leading the medical center’s growth during nearly four decades, he also helped shape Jonesboro and Northeast Arkansas through his extensive community service.
He was the subject of a special supplement published in The Jonesboro Sun upon his retirement at the end of July.
Owens is serving as a consultant to St. Bernards.
Others receiving the award were Charles Horton, Berryville physician, and Stephen C. Smart, El Dorado physician. The awards were presented at a Thursday evening dinner.