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Welcome to our Chamber Connection Newsletter!
In an effort to connect our Chamber Members to valuable news, information, and resources each month we will feature a spotlight topic to better connect our community. This month's topic is healthcare and next month we will feature updates regarding economic and workforce development efforts.
September | 2022 | Healthcare
This Month's Newsletter Topic Sponsored By:
More From our Newsletter Sponsor:
Ritter Communications gives back in celebration of $12 million expansion
Pictured: Natalie Swearingen, Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House; Melissa Cole, Ritter Communications; 
Jennifer Hayes, Ritter Communications; Melissa Shaw Sikes, Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House
JONESBORO, Ark. (Aug. 17, 2022) – Ritter Communications, the largest privately held telecommunications provider serving exclusively in the Mid-South, is completing a $12 million investment and is now offering high-speed internet and telephone services to businesses in Fort Smith, Van Buren, Alma and Ozark. These combined projects were investments made by Ritter Communications to benefit businesses in the region. The expansion of services in this area is one of several recently completed by Ritter Communications, to bring 100% fiber internet to communities across the River Valley and Northwest Arkansas.

“We understand how critically important high-quality, high-speed internet service is to business and education success in today’s environment,” said Ritter Communications President and CEO Alan Morse. “It’s gone from being a nice thing to have, to being something that you can’t effectively operate without. We are pleased to offer this vital connectivity to local businesses and schools in the River Valley.”

Ritter Communications delivers a full suite of reliable state-of-the-art broadband solutions and telecom services with speeds up to 10 gigabits per second of 100% fiber connectivity. In addition, businesses and schools now have access to the Ritter Communications Data Technology Center, a world-class, highly secure facility equipped with local customer support teams, offering advanced cloud solutions for businesses’ unique information and storage needs.

Construction began in the summer of 2021, and completion is expected in the fall of 2022. In celebration of the completion of construction, Ritter Communications is investing in the community with a $5,000 donation to the Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House.

Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House Executive Director, Melissa Shaw Sikes said, “We are grateful for Ritter Communications' donation and their investment in the region. This contribution will help us further our mission of providing patients with a variety of services as they navigate a cancer diagnosis.”

A $5,000 donation to the Morgan Nick Foundation was made at the onset of construction and another exciting announcement is yet to come as the company is also donating to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Ritter Communications is a regional telecommunications provider, headquartered in Jonesboro, Arkansas serving more than 112 communities in the region across four states with a full suite of innovative communications services. Business customers can learn more about available services at
2022 Physician of the Year: Dr. Timothy Waack
Congratulations Healthcare Heroes
2022 Healthcare Hero Recipients

As part of the Fort Smith Chamber's Healthcare Celebration during the month of September, the Chamber asked for nominations for a Healthcare Hero from our area, weekly. Nominations were made on our Facebook page and included many amazing healthcare industry workers that are working with passion and dedication in many fields. We randomly selected from weekly nominations a hero to spotlight and awarded a surprise prize package to them. Below are the four recipients of this year's Healthcare Celebration. The selected weekly winners each received a prize package, valued at over $500+ with items from prize sponsors such as:

Expressions Flowers: Floral Arrangement
Nothing Bundt Cakes: Variety of Cakes
Andy's Frozen Custard: 52 Treat Card (1 free treat each week for a year)
Blended Nutrition & Tan: Gift Certificate
Malco Theater: 2 tickets + 2 bags of popcorn
Tacos 4 Life: $20 Gift card + T4L Items
Smallcakes: Cupcake & gift card
Johnson Dermatology: Skin Care Gift Sets
Fort Smith Coffee Company: $10 Gift Card
Sips on the River Wine and Spirits Tasting: General Admission Event Ticket
And items from our Healthcare Celebration sponsors.
New Physicians Welcomed to Our Area
Quality healthcare is a key factor in economic development. Each year, the Chamber and our Healthcare Council, comprised of healthcare professionals that represent our region, express our gratitude to current physicians and thank new physicians for choosing to practice and serve here in the Fort Smith area. During this year's reception, the annual "Physician of the Year Award" was presented to Dr. Timothy Waack. Additionally, the reception also gave attendees and sponsors opportunities to network prior to the program. The event also offered a moment for the Fort Smith Chamber and business community to welcome new physicians and thank them for choosing to serve our region.
Photos from the 2022 Healthcare Celebration Reception held on Thursday, September 15.
Healthcare news and upcoming events shared from our Chamber Members:
Sep 1, 2022

Dr. Jeffrey Osborn will join the Fort Smith-based Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE) as the vice president of research. The hiring is part of the college taking another step to advance medical research at the ACHE Research Institute Health and Wellness Center.

Baptist Health Breast Center-Fort Smith Offers Free Women’s Health Lunch & Learn October 3, 2022

FORT SMITH, Ark. – Baptist Health Breast Center-Fort Smith is teaming up with Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House to offer a free lunch and learn in October focused on women’s health issues.

The event will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Cancer Support House located at 3324 S M. St.

A panel of female physicians, nurses and nutrition experts will discuss a wide range of women’s health topics including breast, heart and urological health. Free blood pressure checks and bone density screenings will also be provided by Baptist Health Breast Center-Fort Smith.

A free lunch will be provided for those who register. Register on the “Classes and Resources” page at or by calling 1-888-BAPTIST.
Move with the Mayor Vaccination Campaign September 29, 2022

Move with the MayorTM Vaccination Campaign
When we are protected, our community is stronger.
As a community, we have come so far together over the past two years. The COVID-19 pandemic brought hardships we never expected – overwhelming our hospitals, hurting our local businesses, and heartbreakingly, taking many lives. Nevertheless, Fort Smith and the River Valley stood strong, and there are many positive signs that we are recovering. We are getting back to work and school. We are eating out again and gathering with our friends. We are getting healthier.

Now we have the opportunity to take charge of our health in other ways.

We all know about getting our annual flu shot, and being vaccinated against COVID-19 is becoming just as routine. However, there are other routine vaccinations we need as adults that can help protect us against serious illnesses such as shingles, pneumonia, and whooping cough. We do not hear as much about these vaccines, and you may not even realize that you need them. In fact, the Center for Disease Control´s (CDC) National Health Interview Survey shows many adults in the U.S. remained unprotected against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Mercy Hospital Fort Smith Blesses New Helipad
September 08, 2022

The landing of a Mercy Life Line helicopter on Wednesday helped mark the beginning for a new helipad at Mercy Hospital Fort Smith, part of the ongoing expansion at the hospital.

The new helipad, located in front of the Physicians Building at the hospital, is part of the $162.5 million expansion of the emergency room and intensive care unit at Mercy Fort Smith. Relocating the helipad will improve patient transport to the ER.

“This is a first, giant step toward getting the new ER and ICU operations underway,” said Dr. David Hunton, president of Mercy Clinic Fort Smith. “We appreciate the work Mercy Life Line does in helping get patients to us and, when needed, getting other patients out where they need to go.”

The goal at Mercy in Fort Smith, Dr. Hunton said, is to become a Level II trauma center, and the helipad blessing is a “great first step in that direction. We look forward to all the construction projects as they will provide our community with better access to health care.”

$18.7 Million Gift to Double Nursing Grads, Expand Arts Programs
September 09, 2022

Fostering Public Health through Nursing

In service to the region’s public health needs, more than $9.9 million of the Windgate Foundation’s gift will be dedicated to the immediate and sustained expansion of the UAFS Nursing program.

“This gift has created a new beginning for Nursing at UAFS by affording us the opportunity to address one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime, access to health care, by educating and training the registered nurses our community and our region so desperately need,” said Dr. Paula Julian, Executive Director of the UAFS Carolyn McKelvey Moore School of Nursing.

“We have a distinctive nursing program that has been known across the state as offering a truly exceptional education,” said Riley. “The brightest, most dedicated nursing students in the region choose UAFS because they know they’re going to get the best education right here in Fort Smith.

“But like other universities, we share a difficulty in recruiting and retaining the exceptional faculty members who teach in this program, especially amid a global pandemic. Nationally, nursing faculty have been drawn away from academia by high salaries at hospitals and a call to do the important work of caring for patients during this time of crisis, so the financial means to recruit and retain the devoted educators who will train the next generation of qualified nurses is critical to expansion.”

An initial investment of close to $4 Million will allow the university to hire 27 additional faculty immediately while expanding and equipping simulation labs to maximize existing infrastructure. This is expected to serve an additional 200 students annually in the university’s Bachelor of Science of Nursing (BSN) programs, which include traditional and accelerated options.

Healthcare events shared by members:
Covenant Benefits and Insurance Specialists -Medicare Townhall
Presentations by Members of River Valley Senior Care Alliance
October 4th, 2:00 PM
Calico County Restaurant
2401 S 56th St
Ft Smith, AR, 72903
Medicare A, B, C’s, and D
Elder Care Resource Planning
Spectrum of Care
Extra Help Available for Medicare Recipients
Please RSVP By Calling (479) 431-5632 or (479) 461-1894

Providence Elder Law, Liz Martin
Price Medicare Mentors
Jarret Davis, Medicare Broker, and others
This event is for Educational Purposes only. There is no obligation to enroll or provide contact information. No plan-specific benefits will be presented. Licensed sales agents will be presenting some topics.
Not affiliated with the Center for Medicare Services

Date and Time
Friday, Oct 7, 2022
7:30 AM - 10:30 AM CDT

AFMC Fort Smith Office
5111 Rogers Ave #476
Fort Smith, AR 72903

FREE Vaccines
New Booster Available.

The 2022 Survivors' Challenge will be held Saturday, October 15th at the Reynolds Cancer Support House! 2022 is the 31st Anniversary for this exciting event. Choose between our 10K Run, 5k Run/ Walk, or our Celebration Walk! 100% of the net proceeds from the Survivors' Challenge events will ensure that the mission of the Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House can continue providing vital programs and services to cancer patients and their families in our community. Are YOU up for the challenge?! What are you waiting for?! Register TODAY in support of someone you love fighting this battle. Let's lace up those sneakers and together we can make our community a better place to live by improving the lives of families dealing with the trauma of cancer.
 *NO RACE DAY REGISTRATION* Online Registration will be open until midnight Friday, October 14th.
 **Participants registered by October 4th are guaranteed a Swag Bag and T-shirt at packet pick-up. Registrations after October 4th will receive a t-shirt at a later date.
Feel free to contact me if you have ANY questions.
Thanks a million for your support of the mission of the Reynolds Cancer Support House!!
Natalie Swearingen
Event Coordinator
Registration site:
2022 Survivors' Challenge 10K Run | 5K Run & Walk | Celebration Walk (

Don't miss out on the upcoming behind-the-scenes Manufacturing Week tours, activities, and First Friday Breakfast manufacturing panel discussion
2022 Manufacturing Week: October 3 - October 7

As manufacturers seek to fill high-skill, high-tech, and high-paying jobs, MFG Day empowers manufacturers to come together to address their collective challenges so they can help their communities and future generations thrive.
Held annually on the first Friday in October, National Manufacturing Day helps show the reality of modern manufacturing in our community by local companies opening their doors to our Chamber Members. There are so many great things happening in our own backyard and Manufacturing Week will help you get a behind-the-scenes look at many of our Chamber Members in the Manufacturing industry.

Manufacturing is at the heart of some of the most impactful work done in our community and we are excited to shine a spotlight on manufacturing careers.
Upcoming Chamber Connection Newsletters:
October 27, 2022 - Economic & Workforce Development
November 17, 2022 - Shop Local
December 29, 2022 - Membership
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