Mercy Health names new chief operating officer amid regional expansion

by Kim Souza ( 1,096 views 

Mercy Health has named Doug Penner chief operating officer for Mercy Clinics in Northwest Arkansas. He will report to Dr. Steve Goss, president for the clinics who oversees hiring of physicians. Penner hails from New Hampshire where he recently worked as vice president of Elliott Medical Group, a health provider in Manchester, N.H.

Penner has logged 12 years of health care operations experience also serving as chief operating office at the Washington Township Medical Group in Fremont, Calif., in addition to directing operations for medical groups with the Sutter Health system in San Francisco.

Originally from California, Penner holds a master’s degree in business administration from Indiana University and a master’s degree in public health administration from University of California-Berkeley. He also earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi. Penner is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American College of Medical Practice Executives. He recently relocated to Northwest Arkansas with his wife Delena and one daughter, and is no known relation to Walmart Board Chairman Greg Penner, also from California.

“I am thrilled to be joining Mercy,” Penner said. “Mercy has a long tradition of excellence, and a profound commitment to its mission. It is an honor and privilege to serve Mercy’s ministry in Northwest Arkansas, and to contribute to continued growth in the market.”

Penner replaces Andy Thompson, who is now System COO of Mercy Health Physicians at Mercy Health in Ohio. Jennifer Cook, spokeswoman for Mercy Northwest, said the two Mercy systems are not related.

Goss said Penner is a perfect fit for the clinic management team while Mercy is in the midst of a major facility expansion and adding roughly 100 new doctors and more advanced practitioners.

“We feel fortunate to have Doug in such an important role in our ministry. His experience, coupled with his dedication to patient-centered care, will be essential as we continue to build our network of clinics in Northwest Arkansas,” Goss added.

Mercy Northwest is nearly halfway through its five-year plan to invest $247 million in a hospital expansion in Rogers and several new clinics in the region. The hospital expansion is slated for completion next summer and includes a new seven-story patient tower and the addition of between 150 and 360 new beds at the hospital. Also under construction are several clinics overseen by Goss and his team. The next clinic to open in the expansion plan is in  Bentonville along North Walton Boulevard. It is the second new construction project for the city with a clinic opened earlier this year on I Street in southwest Bentonville, in front of the city’s community center.

Doug Penner

The largest of the clinics in the expansion project is in Springdale located west of Interstate 49 at Elm Springs Road. The facility will be 63,000-square feet and include an emergency room and surgery center. Mercy said it will spend in excess of $45 million on the Springdale location which is slated to open in August 2019.

Kerry Harper, executive director of support services for Sisters of Mercy Health System, said in April  long-range plans call for the Springdale site to include an inpatient tower that could convert the clinic into a hospital. Harper said the 31-acre lot Mercy acquired for the project gives the system opportunity to expand as demand dictates.

Harper said plans for an impatient tower with 36 beds per floor are seen as the second phase of the addition, but that will require more funding on top of the $247 million already committed to the hospital expansion at Mercy in Rogers and other clinics in the region. The Springdale clinic will be largest of all the outpatient facilities.

Smaller clinics have already opened in Pea Ridge, Rogers, South Bentonville and Centerton. The clinic in North Bentonville is slated to open this fall. Mercy also plans another clinic in West Bella Vista. Through 2021 Mercy expects to add 1,000 new jobs as part of the expansion plan.