The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority has voted to donate 200 acres of land worth $4 million to be used for the construction of an Osteopathic College of Medicine, according to 5NEWS reporter Aubry Killion.
Killion attended the meeting today where the vote took place.
The proposed school will be able to teach approximately 150 students and is designed to be a 60,000 square foot building, according to the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority.
It will employ 65 people and create jobs with an average salary of more than $100,000.
Everyone voted unanimously in favor of donating the land.
The Board of Trustees of the Fort Smith Regional Healthcare Foundation unanimously voted to move forward employing a chief executive officer and chief academic officer (dean) for the school.
They committed funds in excess of $58 million and anticipates funding from other sources.
Thanks to the Arkansas Osteopathic Medical Association, a number of partnerships were developed while the site was being researched.
"Mercy Health System, Sparks, Cooper Clinic, the Choctaw National Health Services Authority and Community Health Centers of Arkansas have all indicated their desire to play integral roles in the clinical rotations and residency education of the proposed school," a news release from the Board of Trustees of the Fort Smith Regional Healthcare Foundation stated.
Dr. James Baker, president of the Arkansas Osteopathic Medical Association said, "The AOMA is extremely excited about the development of the proposed Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine to be located in Fort Smith. We will continue to develop, partner with, and support those providing state-wide resources to help advance the Fort Smith Regional Healthcare Foundation's mission of establishing the school."
Many sites were looked at, but thanks to the land donation, the proposed college will be located near Chad Colley Boulevard at the Chaffee Crossing. The current schedule targets the fall of 2017 for admission of the first class in the proposed college.
Ivy Owen, FCRA executive director, said the campus is highly compatible with Chaffee Crossing development.
“We are very excited to be a part of the plans to build this osteopathic medical university. Their plans dovetail nicely with our plans for this area. The wooded, open space, walkable-style campus is exactly what we want for Chaffee Crossing," Owen said.
“The announcement of a proposed college of osteopathic medicine in Fort Smith and Barling is wonderful news,” states Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders. “Not only will it provide a needed influx of physicians to improve critical health care in this region, it will also provide a significant boost to our regional economy,” he added.
Arkansas currently ranks 48th in physician accessibility in the United States, according to the news release.
The western side of the state, including the Fort Smith region, has been identified as the most underserved area in Arkansas.
Currently, there are 30 osteopathic colleges and approximately 60,000 fully licensed osteopathic physicians (DOs) in the United States who practice the entire scope of modern medicine and bring a patient-centered, holistic, hands-on approach to diagnosing and treating illness and injury, according to the news release.