Mercy Fort Smith broke ground on the 62,570-square-foot Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital-Fort Smith in Chaffee Crossing on a rainy Feb. 12, 2020. Friday (May 21), another rainy day, dignitaries cut the ribbon to officially open the new hospital.
The $21 million-hospital sits on four acres adjacent to the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine on the Arkansas College of Health Education campus and will serve as a teaching site for students in ACHE’s School of Occupational Therapy and School of Physical Therapy. ACHE donated the land for the hospital from acreage it owns at Chaffee Crossing.
It marks the fifth joint venture between Mercy and Louisville, Ky.-based Kindred Healthcare, said Russ Bailey, president of Kindred Rehabilitation. Kindred Healthcare will manage day-to-day operations of the hospital, which is scheduled to open to patients June 1. Cory VanMeter will serve as the CEO. The new hospital will employ 140 at full operation, many of which will be new jobs created for the local market.
“As Mercy continues to embrace partnerships that increase the services we provide, we are so very thankful for the partnership Mercy has with Kindred Healthcare, a partnership that is opening the doors to the state of the art facility that will truly be a destination rehabilitation hospital for patients throughout the region and the state, providing unique, customized programs to meet the needs of each and every patient,” said Juli Stec, vice president of operations for Mercy Fort Smith.
The new 50-bed hospital will care for adults recovering from conditions such as stroke, neurological disease, injury to the brain or spinal cord and other debilitating illnesses or injuries. It will feature all private rooms; a secured brain injury unit with private dining and therapy gym; large interdisciplinary gyms; transitional living apartment designed to simulate a residential apartment; therapeutic courtyard with golf, pickleball and cornhole; and specialty programs dedicated to treating patients for neurological issues, stroke, brain injury and amputation.
“We celebrate this new hospital that will change the lives of individuals for years and decades to come by giving hope, hope to our physicians and our co-workers…, hope to the students…, and most importantly hope to the individuals whose lives have been impacted by injury and illness,” Stec said.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the partnership between Mercy, Kindred and ACHE has helped healthcare in the Fort Smith metro, noting that this type of partnership is something unique to Fort Smith.
“What this means is that the people of the river valley are going to have the best care, close to home, the highest quality, and whoever needs this care after a stroke or other incident is going to be able to receive it in this beautiful environment,” Hutchinson said. “It’s also going to mean a continued advancement in medical education, which now Fort Smith is becoming a center of medical education that is going to benefit the entire state.”