Officials from Mercy Northwest Arkansas and city of Bentonville celebrated the opening of a new primary care health clinic along North Walton Boulevard on Tuesday (Oct. 2). It is the sixth clinic in the city for Mercy, part of the health system’s $277 million Community Presence Plan — a campaign to get closer to its patients.
Dr. Steve Goss, president of Mercy Clinic Northwest Arkansas, said the region’s continued growth has been behind Mercy’s commitment to bring seven clinics to the region, the last being the large health center under construction in Springdale expected to open in August 2019.
“I know it’s hard to believe but there still is a shortage of primary care physicians and clinics in this growing region,” Goss said. “We have four health care providers at this new clinic, two of them with 30 years of practice in Bentonville. Dr. Bob Holder worked with me 31 years ago at Bentonville Medical Associates when I first moved to town. Dr. Jim Byrum joined Mercy in 1991 and Dr. Kim Chapman has 15 years of practice and we hired Meredith Findley about a year ago and she will serve as nurse practitioner at this clinic.”
Goss said the four health care providers will see between 300 and 375 patients a week at the new clinic. Although the clinic wasn’t slated to open until 1 p.m., doctors did see to one patient who walked up ahead of the event seeking medical attention.
The small clinic was a $4.1 million investment from Mercy and it represents the health system’s newest prototype, being able to provide internal medicine, family and pediatric care as well as travel medicine. The clinic is also equipped to do minor procedures such as X-ray and labs, and there are plans to add a walk-in clinic service in the coming months.
Goss said the clinic may look small but it’s designed to be efficient and still perform to the standards required by Mercy. Over a year’s time, the clinic will likely see more than 3,500 patients. Goss said that will typically include up to 30% of new patients to Mercy. He said that’s been the ratio of new patients recorded at new clinics opening in south Bentonville, Pea Ridge and Centerton, all comparable to the size of the North Walton Boulevard clinic.
Goss said the Community Presence Plan found residents prefer care close to where they live and work. The new clinic is located less than a mile from four public schools and a number of businesses including Walmart’s transportation and logistics center, Harp’s Food Store and Walmart Neighborhood Market.
“To us, it’s much more than a strategy,” Goss said. “It’s about how can we be present in the community where people need us most? How can we open doors to enhance the quality of life for our friends and neighbors?”
Byrum said he’s moving his practice from Mercy’s Primary Care clinic on Moberly Lane and he lives within walking distance of the new site.
“We have a thriving clinic on Moberly, but this was a good chance for me to expand our primary care services into my own neighborhood,” Byrum said.
Goss said Phase I of the Community Presence Plan and investment will wind down next August with the opening of the large primary/emergency care center and physician’s office in Springdale, and the seven-story patient tower addition to Mercy Hospital in Rogers.
Mercy is working on Phase II, which will likely include additional clinics in Bella Vista and east Springdale and perhaps a patient tower at the large Springdale clinic. But Goss said the capital campaign is still underway for the Phase I projects. He said there are no plans to expand services to Fayetteville.
“Mercy can make these investments because we are part of larger health systems but it’s going to take local help as well,” Goss said. “We are relying, too, on our board members and donors to continue working to support our foundation fundraising so we can continue to bring health care closer to the people in this community.”
Eric Pianalto, president of Mercy Hospital, recently said Mercy’s foundation has raised almost $14 million toward the $25 million goal for Phase I. He said the total goal for Phase I and II is $40 million throughout a five-year campaign and Mercy is about halfway through that time frame.