|FCRA Donates 200 Acres for Development
FORT SMITH REGIONAL HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION TO PURSUE OSTEOPATHIC COLLEGE IN FORT SMITH
Proposed School to be Located at Chaffee Crossing
OFFICIAL NEWS RELEASE
FORT SMITH, AR (February 18, 2014) – On February 18, 2014, the Board of Trustees of the Fort Smith Regional Healthcare Foundation unanimously voted to move forward with the development of a college of osteopathic medicine in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and to employ a Chief Executive Officer and a Chief Academic Officer (Dean). The Board has committed funds in excess of $58 million and anticipates additional funding from other sources.
With the assistance of the Arkansas Osteopathic Medical Association (AOMA), a number of partnerships have been developed while the project was being researched. Mercy Health System, Sparks (a part of Community Health Systems), Cooper Clinic, the Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority and Community Health Centers of Arkansas have indicated their desire to play integral roles in the clinical rotations and residency education of the proposed college. Further partnerships with medically underserved areas in the region and throughout the state are also in development. In response to this announcement, Dr. James Baker, president of the AOMA, says "The AOMA is extremely excited about the development of the proposed Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine to be located in Fort Smith. We will continue to develop, partner with, and support those providing state-wide resources to help advance the Fort Smith Regional Healthcare Foundation's mission of establishing the school."
Fort Smith Regional Healthcare Foundation board chairman, Kyle Parker, agrees that this is a mission-driven project. “Our mission clearly states that we have a responsibility to fill gaps in healthcare and provide care for the medically underserved. We’ve been working on the feasibility and relationships necessary to make this healthcare solution a reality for more than a year. It’s not about building a school, it’s about recognizing needs in our area, in Arkansas and Oklahoma, and across the U.S., and using our resources to fulfill that need.”
Numerous sites in Fort Smith were investigated. With a generous gift of property from the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA), the proposed college will be located near Chad Colley Boulevard at Chaffee Crossing. The current schedule targets the fall of 2017 for admission of the first class into the proposed college.
Ivy Owen, FCRA executive director, says the campus is highly compatible with Chaffee Crossing development. “We are very excited to be a part of the plans to build this osteopathic medical university. Their plans dovetail nicely with our plans for this area. The wooded, open space, walkable-style campus is exactly what we want for Chaffee Crossing. “
“The announcement of a proposed college of osteopathic medicine in Fort Smith and Barling is wonderful news,” states Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders. “Not only will it provide a needed influx of physicians to improve critical health care in this region, it will also provide a significant boost to our regional economy,” he added. Sanders thanks the Fort Smith Regional Healthcare Foundation for its leadership and substantial investment in the health and economic well-being of residents of western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.
City of Barling Mayor Jerry Barling echoed that enthusiasm. “The City of Barling is very excited to be a partner of the proposed osteopathic college. The presence of an institution of this nature will have a huge economic impact on our entire region. We welcome it with open arms.”
Arkansas currently ranks 48th in physician accessibility in the United States. The western side of the state, including the Fort Smith region, has been identified as the most underserved area in Arkansas. FSRHF was presented the opportunity to increase availability of care within medically underserved areas of the state by addressing the severe shortage of physicians through the development of a college.
Currently, there are 30 osteopathic colleges and approximately 60,000 fully licensed osteopathic physicians (DOs) in the United States who practice the entire scope of modern medicine and bring a patient-centered, holistic, hands-on approach to diagnosing and treating illness and injury.
Additional information about the Arkansas Osteopathic Medical Foundation can be found on their website, http://www.arosteopathic.org/.
Fort Smith Regional Healthcare Foundation, based in Fort Smith, Arkansas, is committed to providing for the region’s healthcare needs. The Foundation seeks out and rewards new and ongoing efforts to improve healthcare and healthcare related educational services by investing in practical solutions today with a vision for tomorrow.
Click here to download a PDF of the official news release.
Click here to download a PDF of the Proposed Master Plan for the school.