FORT SMITH, Ark. – Baptist Health and Mercy Fort Smith have announced their collaborative investment in Healthcare Sciences programming at the Peak Innovation Center. This $1 Million gift will directly impact the quality and capacity of healthcare related Career and Technical Education in the Fort Smith region.
Contributing $500,000 each, their investment will contribute to expanded programming and square footage as well as the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment for the Healthcare Sciences programs that will be housed at Peak. The Healthcare Sciences wing will include a high-fidelity simulation lab with testing room, three flexible classrooms, a responsive medicine classroom, and collaborative lab spaces.
“We are excited to be partnering with Fort Smith Public Schools and Baptist Health to provide local students with the opportunity to learn more about health care,” said Ryan Gehrig, president of Mercy Hospital Fort Smith. “Health care workers are a vital part of all communities, and this innovative educational partnership will help strengthen our workforce and provide opportunities for students in the River Valley. It’s a tremendous honor to be involved with this initiative.”
“Collaborating with community organizations is in line with the mission and vision of Baptist Health,” said Kim Miller, president of Baptist Health Western Region. “We are very excited to support Peak Innovation Center and invest in our future workforce. Our desire is to support lifelong learning that will strengthen our community as we place great value in our next generation of leaders.”
“The Healthcare Science pathway is a key anchor to programming at Peak for high school students and adult workers across the region, leading to concurrent credit, technical certificates, and in-demand career opportunities in the field. This collaborative partnership with Mercy Fort Smith and Baptist Health ensures that we can continue to raise the trajectory of students’ success throughout our region in the growing fields of Healthcare Sciences,” said Dr. Gary Udouj, Director of Career Education and District Innovation.
Through a partnership with the Western Arkansas Technical Center at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, Peak will offer concurrent credit training programs for 11th and 12th grade students in practical nursing and responsive medicine starting in August. In addition to serving regional high school students, the Peak Innovation Center may provide opportunities for adult and incumbent worker training at night and on weekends.