48 Cooper Clinic doctors now part of Mercy Clinic-Fort Smith

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 3,211 views 

The deal is done in which the almost 100-year old Fort Smith-based Cooper Clinic will be absorbed by Mercy Clinic-Fort Smith. Terms of the deal between Cooper at the St. Louis based clinic were not disclosed.

News of the deal first broke Sept. 7 between the two organizations that had been in a legal battle of physician recruitment.

The deal means 61 Cooper Clinic providers, including 48 physicians, will integrate with Mercy. A previous report by WebMd had the number of physicians at 68. Also, 400 Cooper Clinic co-workers will join Mercy, and 28 Cooper Clinic practices will become part of the Mercy system.

“Cooper Clinic’s 97-year history of quality care is a strong fit with Mercy’s legacy of caring for patients in the River Valley since 1853,” Dr. Cole Goodman, president of Mercy Clinic, said in a statement.

A statement from Mercy claimed that “the integration of the two organizations will provide exceptional opportunities to support local communities in ways that could not have been accomplished as separate organizations.” With the integration of Cooper Clinic, Mercy will offer several new specialties. Those specialties include dermatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, nephrology, occupational medicine, and ear, nose and throat, among others.

Dr. Daniel Mackey, president of Cooper Clinic’s board of directors, said Dr. St. Cloud Cooper had better patient care in mind in 1920 when he and six other physicians formed the group.

“Cooper Clinic’s decision to join Mercy Clinic was made with that same goal in mind. For our employees, our physicians and our patients, this is an exciting time. Joining Mercy Clinic is not the end of Dr. Cooper’s legacy, it is a continuation of that commitment,” he said.

Mercy Fort Smith operates in an area of 450,000 residents in 13 counties in Arkansas and Oklahoma through its network of hospitals, primary, specialty and convenient care clinics. Previous to the Cooper Clinic integration, Mercy operated 48 clinic locations across that service area. Mercy Clinic employs 188 providers, including 154 physicians, and another 521 co-workers.

“Physicians and co-workers in both organizations are involved with efforts to ensure a smooth and seamless transition for patients. All Cooper Clinic patients will be notified of the changes in letters and provided more information at mercy.net and cooperclinic.com,” noted the Mercy statement.

Cooper Clinic, independent and physician-owned, had been in operation more than 97 years. When the clinic opened in 1920 by Dr. St. Cloud Cooper, its offices were on the sixth floor of the First National Bank of Fort Smith building in downtown Fort Smith.

The recruitment of doctors fueled a 2013 legal tiff between Cooper Clinic and Mercy-Fort Smith. The suit, filed Aug. 2, 2013, by Cooper Clinic against Mercy Fort Smith and St. Louis-based Sisters of Mercy Health System, alleged that Mercy and its parent company used their economic power to recruit 15 physicians away from Cooper and to the Mercy Clinic between Oct. 31, 2010 and Aug. 1, 2013. The legal action was settled prior to acquisition discussions.