Mercy leaders, along with local and state officials, celebrated the completion of Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital Fort Smith, a 50-bed facility that will provide care for adults recovering from stroke, neurological conditions and more.
Leaders from Mercy, Kindred Healthcare and the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education in Fort Smith, as well as Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, U.S. Sen. John Boozman, Attorney Gen. Leslie Rutledge, Fort Smith Mayor George McGill and others, were on hand to dedicate the new hospital, which has been under construction at 6700 Chad Colley Blvd. in Fort Smith for about 14 months. The new 62,570-square-foot facility is a joint venture between Mercy Fort Smith and Kindred Healthcare that sits on four acres of land donated by the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE).
The 50-bed hospital will provide care for adults recovering from conditions such as stroke, neurological disease, injury to the brain or spinal cord and other debilitating illnesses or injuries. The first patients are expected to be seen June 1.
“Mercy is so very blessed to partner with Kindred Healthcare and the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education,” said Juli Stec, vice president of operations at Mercy Fort Smith. “These strategic partnerships provide access to quality, compassionate cost-effective rehabilitative care, while also supporting the educational advancement of future health care providers.”
Around 140 co-workers will be employed at the new hospital. The facility has a hard construction cost of about $28.5 million. Kindred Healthcare will manage day-to-day operations of the hospital, which is the fifth joint venture between Kindred and Mercy.
“I would say, health care could not be any better than it is in the River Valley, and we’re grateful for this new advancement in health care for all those who rely upon it,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “It’s exciting for me as governor to participate in this. We have all been through a lot over the last year. It’s nice to be coming out of it … and we’re going to continue down that path with everybody getting vaccinations, and Mercy has been a leader, both in terms of their service to COVID patients and guidance and the extraordinary, quality health care.”
Sen. Boozman thanked Mercy’s health care workers for their efforts during the pandemic, stating that “because of you all, we’ve gotten through this, are getting through this … again, we’re still not through this totally, but we are moving in the right direction.”
The hospital will feature all private rooms; a secured brain injury unit with private dining and therapy gym; large interdisciplinary gyms; transitional living apartment, designed to simulate a residential apartment; therapeutic courtyard with golf, pickle ball and corn hole; specially designed rooms to treat dialysis patients; and specialty programs dedicated to neuro, stroke, brain injury and amputation.
The rehabilitation hospital will serve as a teaching site for students in ACHE’s School of Occupational Therapy and School of Physical Therapy. Kyle D. Parker, JD, CEO of ACHE, said the rehabilitation hospital is a “perfect addition to the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE) campus at Heritage.”
“This facility will support ACHE’s mission to improve the lives of others as a valuable health care resource for our community,” Parker said. “The hospital will be ready just in time for our first class of physical therapy students to begin June 1, 2021, followed by our first class of occupational therapy students in January 2022. We look forward to the exceptional training our students will receive at this outstanding rehabilitation facility located right on our campus.”
Stec continued by connecting Mercy’s origins almost 200 years ago with its ongoing efforts to provide quality care to its patients.
“In 1827, a woman in Dublin, Ireland named Catherine McAuley recognized the needs of people who were sick, economically poor and uneducated and determined that she and women like her could make a difference, and so, the Ministry of Mercy began,” Stec said. “The power of this one woman changed the world by giving hope to others. As we continue her legacy, we celebrate the opening of this new hospital that will be a beacon of hope to individuals within our community, our region and our state.”
“As with Kindred’s other quality-focused partnerships with Mercy, this new hospital will be dedicated to passionately advocating for, and providing hope, healing and recovery to, patients in its care,” said Russ Bailey, president of Kindred Rehabilitation. “Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital Fort Smith will provide increased access to rehabilitation services to the surrounding community of Fort Smith and help address the growing need for these services throughout the state of Arkansas.”