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Sparks releases $13.5m for new medical school.

Sparks Health System said Tuesday that it has released about $13.5 million to go toward the proposed osteopathic medical school in Fort Smith.

The money is a portion of the escrowed funds from the sale of Sparks Regional Medical Center in 2009. Another $10 million will be released Dec. 1, 2015.

"This is another wonderful example of a community-wide effort to meet a great community need," Kyle Parker, president and CEO of the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education and the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine, said in a news release. "This school and its mission to provide care for medically underserved areas will be transformative for our region and state."

Parker told Arkansas Business in May that the osteopathic medical school had a target opening date of August 2016 at Chaffee Crossing.

The school chose its architect, Risley&Associates of Fort Smith, in June. Risley will partner with Cromwell Architects Engineers of Little Rock on the master plan.

The project has been estimated at $75 million. Dirt work is to begin in September with construction work coming next spring.

Before the recent funding provided by Sparks Health System, Parker said the school had about $80 million in cash on hand after receiving $58 million from the Fort Smith Regional Healthcare Foundation and another $14 million from an anonymous donor.

The school is expected to file for pre-accreditation with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and the national agency this summer. If all goes according to plan, the school should receive pre-accreditation status from the state by the end of July and from the national agency by the end of December.

The osteopathic school hopes to have 150 students in its first year. It named Dr. Kenneth A. Hellas as its dean in May.

Arkansas State University is also moving forward with plans for an osteopathic school on its Jonesboro campus. In February, the board of trustees approved a resolution that would allow it to partner with the New York institute of Technology to develop the medical school.

Caption: Kyle Parker

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Author:Hogan, Lee
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jul 21, 2014
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