Building a Healthier Fort Smith

October 22, 2012

If you’ve ever had to leave town to find health care or waited months to get a doctor’s appointment - you can appreciate the steps Mercy is taking to improve health care in our community. We’re playing a leading role in building a healthier community by bringing in more physicians, more medical facilities, more services and more technology.

With help and input from the community – including dedicated local residents, homemakers, small business owners and civic leaders, – Mercy has developed a $192 million community master plan that is designed to grow and improve health care in Fort Smith.

Components of the plan already underway are:

  • Construction of a new $42 million, 24-bed hospital orthopedic hospital in Fort Smith that will give adults in need of joint replacement the best care available.
  • The launch of a $7.8 million Heart Center project that includes replacing the equipment in three cardiac catheterization labs with the latest technology as well as a new stress lab that will include EKG's, treadmills and a nuclear camera.
  • The opening of the new $4.4 million Mercy Clinic location on Dallas Street with 26 exam rooms as well as in-house lab and x-ray to make visits more convenient for patients.
  • Ongoing physician recruitment with the goal 80 new physicians to meet the needs of the community.  
  • Expanded cancer care treatment with additional oncologists and future plans for new technology

Mercy Fort Smith President Ryan Gehrig says the community master plan includes efforts to recruit and retain doctors, build infrastructure an upgrade technology. “Our goal is to ensure that all of us have the access to the health care we need right here in Fort Smith,” he says.

In addition to improving health care, Gehrig says that Mercy also recognizes its role in the economic prosperity of Fort Smith. “We are committed to helping our community continue to grow despite recent manufacturing losses,” he said. “Like well-designed highways and strong public schools, a community must have excellent health care to survive, thrive and grow. Employers locate where housing, education and health care are available.”

As one of the top five employers in Fort Smith, Mercy helps keep the economy alive and vital. In fact, 80 percent of the subcontractors working on current and recently-completed Mercy construction projects are from the Fort Smith area. Plus, each new physician in the community creates up to four other jobs.

“And with the construction of the state-of-the-art orthopedic hospital, people will be coming from all over the region to Fort Smith for orthopedic care, helping to make Fort Smith a vital regional health care destination,” Gehrig says. “We are proud of that.”

Another significant contribution to the health of the Fort Smith community are the millions of dollars in free care provided annually to the thousands of Mercy’s neighbors in need. Any financial profits earned by Mercy are reinvested in the health ministry.

“Mercy exists to serve our communities, and we use our assets for the benefit of this healing ministry,” Gehrig says. “Mercy has served and embraced Fort Smith since 1853, and we are proud to move the Mercy experience forward, rising to new levels of superior health care.”

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