For the third year in a row, Mercy Fort Smith hosted a community roundtable to discuss the health system’s plans for the future and gain input from community members. This year Mercy updated the progress of the community master plan and focused on the recruitment of an additional 80 physicians to the community over the next three to five years.
The physician growth will come through the Mercy Clinic. Mercy Clinic was incorporated in 2008 with 19 mostly hospital-based physicians and about 50 co-workers to support them. A little more than four years later Mercy Clinic has quadrupled in size to 83 physicians, 15 advanced practitioners and 215 clinical and administrative support personnel for a total of 313 employees.
Mercy is working to bring in 30 family practice physicians and an additional 50 specialists in the next 3-5 years. Statistics show Fort Smith currently has a significant shortage of providers based on the national average. The health care data firm Sg2 estimates about 197 physicians are need per 100,000 population. Fort Smith averages just 110 physicians per 100,000 population or 56 percent.
In addition to meeting the health care needs of the community, the addition of 80 physicians would have a significant economic impact as well. An independent study to analyze the economic impact of Mercy on Fort Smith found the average annual income of Mercy employees to be $54,802. So the addition of 80 physicians and the 280 estimated jobs that comes along with them would mean Mercy would put about $19.7 million dollars additional payroll into the community each year
In addition to physician recruitment, Mercy Clinic is building new facilities. A new Mercy Clinic will open on October 29 at 7800 Dallas Street with room for eight-to-10 physicians, lab services and a patient-friendly design. Work on a second Mercy Clinic location in Fort Smith is expected to begin by the end of the year.
Mercy also updated progress on current projects underway including the $42 million orthopedic hospital at the corner of 79th and Phoenix, a $7.8 million technology and services upgrade to the heart center at Mercy Hospital and expanded cancer care services.
At the second roundtable in 2011, Mercy announced the $192 million community master plan – Building a Healthier Fort Smith – to increase infrastructure, recruit and retain physicians and upgrade technology that is currently underway.
At Mercy’s first roundtable in 2010 input was gathered from participants about the health care needs of the community. Four main themes emerged that Mercy is addressing in the community master plan.