Sparks Medical Center - Van Buren will invest $10 million in a new emergency room and provide more outpatient services as the hospital partners with Sparks Medical Center in Fort Smith.
The announcement as well as the name change for Summit Medical Center was made during Tuesday’s Van Buren Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours hosted by the hospital.
Sparks Health System CEO Dan McKay said the name change will mean a significant partnership for the two hospitals.
"We’re going to come together with our synergies and take advantage of our size and our scope of services," McKay said. "We want to make sure we have a competitive hospital in this market that complements what we do at Sparks."
Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman lauded Tuesday’s announcement as "tremendous" for the hospital, the community and Crawford County
"The investment that they are going to make with the new ER shows a commitment to providing the best possible health care to our citizens and also the commitment to the long term future of the hospital," Freeman said. "I believe that commitment goes hand in hand with the rebranding of the hospital to reflect the association with Sparks and Van Buren. Again, a great day for all concerned."
Services to be added included gynecology, gastrointestinal and outpatient urology, McKay said. The timeline for the new emergency room at the Van Buren hospital has yet to be announced.
County Judge John Hall said the long-term investment will result in a great association between the hospital, Van Buren and Crawford County.
"Our citizens need to support and use the hospital at every opportunity," Hall said.
The former Summit Medical Center and Sparks Medical Center in Fort Smith became sister organizations under a purchase of Sparks by Health Management Associates in 2009. HMA already owned Summit. Community Health Systems bought both facilities in 2013. Sparks Medical Center in Fort Smith is the next to the largest facility in CHS’s roster of 206 hospitals across the nation, and the former Summit Medical Center is one of the smallest in the group.
CHS pays Crawford County $775,000 annually to lease Sparks Medical Center - Van Buren.
"It will be an exciting year for our hospital," said Anthony Brooks, interim administrator and chief financial officer for Sparks Medical Center – Van Buren. "We are looking forward to growing and expanding with Sparks Regional Medical Center and continuing a tradition of being there for Crawford County residents when they need us most."
New signage will complete the hospital’s rebranding in the second quarter of this year.
Brooks said the name change is more than just new signs. It is a strategic decision to spotlight Sparks Medical Center – Van Buren as an integral part of Sparks Health System, he said.
"Our plans for 2015 include improving physician recruitment and patient confidence, as well as utilizing the hospital’s geographic location for patient convenience," Brooks said.
Dr. David Busby, chief of staff at the Van Buren hospital, said the hospital was close to seeing a "complete turnaround" in the facility. In addition to having their own non-evasive cardiologist, the Van Buren hospital is actively engaged in recruitment of primary care physicians and conducts numerous plastic surgeries. Busby said they have done 10 knee procedures and two total hip replacements without infections in the past two months.
"We do a good job here. Our big concern is, No. 1, quality of care," Busby said. "Our staff has caring, loving people and because we’re smaller we’re able to spend a little more time with the patients and we make make rounds on a regular basis."
Sparks Health System’s goal is "highly reliable health care," Busby said.
"My thought has been, ‘If you build it they will come.’ If you provide good care and treat people like human beings, they’re going to come. And if they’re not treated like human beings we want to know about it. We have found in talking with them, they are very, very happy with the care they are receiving. And our goal in talking with employees is think of that person as your momma. Think of them as your sister, and treat them the same way you would want to be treated in a hospital."
Sparks Medical Center – Van Buren is a fully accredited, 103-bed acute care hospital providing emergency services, outpatient testing, inpatient surgical services, same-day surgery, rehabilitation services and respiratory therapy.