Dr. Willie Hurst has made it his life’s work to improve the lives of families in Northeast Arkansas.
He serves as medical director for the Jonesboro Church Health Center, a clinic for low-income uninsured individuals. With his wife, Honey, he also founded a non-profit organization called Kids at The Cross to support children and teens in the area.
He also serves as a primary care physician at First Care on Parker Road and a part-time faculty member at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences – Northeast Arkansas.
“I see parents and individuals experiencing ‘economic bondage,’ where they struggle to overcome the socioeconomic place they are in,” said Dr. Hurst. “These individuals are trying to improve their lives, but it isn’t easy. Being able to help people has been a blessing to me.”
Through the Jonesboro Church Health Center, individuals without medical insurance are able to receive healthcare at a reduced fee. The program is funded through the group’s annual Peach Drive, as well as grants.
“Through the Center, people who don’t have access to medical care are able to see a physician, APN or specialist, based on the patient’s need,” said Dr. Hurst. “It’s amazing to see the ways the facility has improved the access to care in this area.”
Six years ago, Dr. Hurst saw children in challenged family situations and witnessed the impact this could have on the child’s life.
“Honey and I wanted to help any way we can,” said Dr. Hurst. “Through Kids at the Cross, we strive to stand in the gap for these kids and do what we can to improve their lives, whether it’s mentoring, tutoring, buying new shoes or school supplies, or simply sharing God’s love with these individuals.”
Dr. Hurst also maintains a full practice at First Care, where he has served since completing the UAMS family practice residency program in 1992. He was one of the first osteopathic physicians in this region, graduating with his undergraduate degree from Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State University) before attending D.O. school at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.
“I went into family medicine because it’s something different every day,” he said. “I tried other specialties while I was in school, and they simply didn’t hold my interest. With family medicine, you can serve in primary care, as I do, or you can be a hospitalist, serve in an emergency department or work in urgent care.”
The Hursts have three grown children, Katie, Adam and Sarah. Adam recently followed in his father’s footsteps and became a physician. In August, he and his wife Mallory moved to Jonesboro, where he will serve as a pediatrician and she will serve as a dermatologist. Sarah, a dietitian with Arkansas Children’s, and Katie, a children’s minister, both live in central Arkansas.
Dr. Hurst and Honey recently were honored by Jonesboro Public Schools as Community Top Canes, a distinction given to people who donate their time and resources to Jonesboro students.
After growing up in Missouri, it’s now Arkansas – specifically, Northeast Arkansas – that feels like home to Dr. Hurst.
“Honey and I love it here, and we can’t imagine living anywhere else,” he said.
To make an appointment with Dr. Hurst at the First Care clinic at 1001 W. Parker Road, please call 870-972-8181.