Community Round Table Follow Up

October 26, 2012

Earlier this month, Mercy invited Fort Smith business and civic leaders to a third Community Roundtable to engage in a conversation about the progress of our Community Master Plan.

Nearly 100 people attended the event to offer their thoughts and suggestions regarding the future of health care in our region. We were energized by the enthusiasm and insight provided on everything from physician recruiting to heath care access for those on Medicare.

This roundtable focused on what Mercy has accomplished so far on the Fort Smith Community Master Plan and what is still in the works. Hospital President Ryan Gehrig  shared information about the work beginning on the $42 million Mercy Orthopedic Hospital at 79th and Phoenix. We are pleased to report that all the steel from the previous structure has been removed and crews are working on the foundation.

Mercy Clinic President Cole Goodman, M.D., talked about the brand new Mercy Clinic Dallas Street location. Six primary care physicians will start seeing patients there on October 29, providing expanded access to physician services from a new facility that offers a more patient-centered environment.

Looking to the future, information was shared about plans to build additional clinics and recruit 80 new physicians to the area in order meet the needs of our community. We also shared the challenges that come from the physician shortage we’ve faced for the last decade.

Then we asked for your input on putting our plans into action. We took thorough notes on what you told us.  From those notes, some common themes emerged:

  • Mercy’s effort to put emphasis on quality of care – not just quantity – is appreciated and should be continued.
  • Members of this community are ready to roll up their sleeves and help “sell” new physicians on Fort Smith, and the community is aware that Mercy is willing to build the facilities, hire the support staff and make the competitive offers to close the deal.
  • It continues to be challenging to find primary care physicians in Fort Smith.
  • Patients on Medicare have even more difficulty securing care because some practices won’t accept that form of payment.
  • The community wants more nurse practitioners/physician assistants to make care more accessible.
  • Mercy should offer more community health education and teach people how to take care of themselves.
  • The community wants to know more about all the good work that Mercy is doing through a variety of communications channels.

Each piece of the Community Master Plan was influenced by input from our community advisory group – dedicated local residents, from homemakers to small business owners to civic leaders. And each year since this plan was developed, we’ve invited Fort Smith leaders to meet with us and discuss our progress. We take that feedback seriously and you soon will begin to see our work toward implementing the feedback you’ve given us this year. We’ll keep you updated here, and we’ll report back to you at the Community Roundtable next year.



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