Baptist Health has entered into a purchase agreement with subsidiaries of Community Health Systems in Franklin, Tenn., to acquire Sparks Health System, which includes Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith, Sparks Medical Center in Van Buren, and affiliated physician clinics covering western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.

With a definitive agreement now reached, this transaction will continue to undergo regulatory, legal, and operational due-diligence examinations. The transaction is expected to be finalized in the fourth quarter of 2018.

“I’m humbled to think of the opportunities we have for the state’s first hospital in Fort Smith to join Baptist Health, the state’s largest and most comprehensive health-care system,” said Troy Wells, president and CEO of Baptist Health. “It is an honor to align our organization with the outstanding reputation of the entire Sparks family and its team of dedicated physicians and caregivers.”

Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith is a 492-bed acute-care hospital, and Sparks Medical Center in Van Buren is a 103-bed acute-care facility. Sparks Health System has approximately 2,000 employees. These two medical centers will increase the total number of hospitals to 11 within the Baptist Health system.

“Baptist Health has a proven track record of supporting Arkansas communities and expanding access to the highest quality care available, and this venture is a huge win for this region,” said Brandon Bullard, interim CEO of Sparks Health System. “Baptist Health has a strong reputation for innovative health and wellness initiatives that are helping communities live healthier lives.”

“Baptist Health is committed to its heritage of being a faith-based, Christian organization providing high-quality care which sustains its mission of responding to the health needs of communities throughout the state,” the press release states. “The opportunity to incorporate the Sparks Health System into Baptist Health will broaden the organization’s vision to change the way health care is delivered in Arkansas and also in eastern Oklahoma. As we serve more people, Baptist Health will continue to provide faith-based health care that strengthens communities we serve and encourages healthy lifestyle changes, which is consistent with our belief that we are more than a business, we are a healing ministry.”

This transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals. Until the transaction is complete, current ownership will remain in place. Financial terms have not been disclosed.

For more information about Baptist Health visit the website at baptist-health.com.

The two-hospital Sparks Health System includes Arkansas’ first hospital, Sparks Regional Medical Center which opened in 1887, Sparks Medical Center – Van Buren, Sparks Clinic, Sparks PremierCare and the fully hospital-integrated Marvin Altman Fitness Center. For more than 125 years, Sparks has been a trusted part of the community, serving more than 350,000 people in an 11-county area. For more information about Sparks Health System, visit the website at sparkshealth.com.