Fort Smith chamber reception welcomes new doctors
Around 200 Fort Smith regional residents and physicians new to the area gathered Tuesday evening (Aug. 31) at the Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House for a New Physicians Reception.
The event, sponsored by the Health Care Council of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, is designed to “show our gratitude to these health care professionals” and help “introduce them to their new home in the Greater Fort Smith Region,” according to a chamber statement.
The council, chaired by Jason Green, consists of representatives from area hospitals, the City of Fort Smith, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith as well as business and community leaders. Chamber leaders have said health care is key to economic development, and is working with area hospitals and other health care providers to support the retention and recruitment of physicians to the region. The annual physician’s reception is part of the support.
The council has moderated forums between local physicians and insurance companies and hosted a New Physician’s Reception to welcome incoming doctors to the region.
In October 2007, the council conducted a survey asking local physicians what issues they felt inhibited the medical community the most in the Greater Fort Smith Region. Based on those results, the council began to focus its efforts on providing more networking opportunities; providing more education and continuing education opportunities in the region and working closely with the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) that trains six to eight doctors each year right in Fort Smith.
In January, the chamber rolled out its goals for 2010, with support of AHEC one of the top priorities. Green said in January that AHEC in Fort Smith — a physician training operation affiliated with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences — and health education programs at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith will allow the region to “grow our own” with respect to providing medical care professionals for area citizens.
“It was a great turnout. It was a good combination of people from the communities and the new physicians,” Green, the HR director for Fort Smith-based Baldor Electric Co., said Tuesday night. “Hopefully this convinces them (doctors) to stay here a long time.”
Drs. Stinson Tillerson and C. Allyson Walker, husband and wife with Sparks Health System and AHEC, were two of the several doctors in attendance. They moved to the Fort Smith area in May from Charlotte, N.C.
“This is nice. It’s much better than I expected,” Tillerson said of the reception.
How does he like the region?
“I don’t know. We have a four-month old at home, so my time is working and baby. We’ve been out to a few restaurants, but we haven’t had time to see everything,” Tillerson said.