Summit Medical changes name, $10 million ER expansion planned

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 1,644 views 

Community Health Systems plans to invest $10 million in an emergency room expansion at Summit Medical Center in Van Buren, and is also changing the name of Summit to Sparks Medical Center – Van Buren.

The expanded emergency room will have 12 beds and will be located near the front of the existing hospital in Van Buren. A groundbreaking is expected later this year.

“It will be an exciting year for our hospital,” Anthony Brooks, interim administrator and chief financial officer for Sparks Medical Center – Van Buren, said in a statement announcing the name change. “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. This name change, according to Sparks, is a strategic decision to spotlight Sparks Medical Center – Van Buren as an integral part of Sparks Health System.

“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.

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.

Sparks and Summit were part of the early 2014 sale of Health Management Associates to Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems, a company whose portfolio of hospitals was nearly double the size of HMA's portfolio. Locally, CHS owns four Northwest Arkansas facilities — Northwest Medical Center-Bentonville, Northwest Medical Center-Springdale, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital and Willow Creek Women's Hospital in Johnson.

“I think the community response has been very positive,” said Jackie Krutsch, executive director of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce.

Krutsch said discussions about rebranding Summit began when then Naples, Fla.-based Health Management Associates bought Sparks Health System in late 2009. At the time, HMA had a lease agreement with Crawford County to manage Summit Medical Center.

“The conversation (with HMA) was, what a great opportunity for Summit because of the opportunity for shared resources … and expanded services to Summit,” Krutsch explained.

However, the process and the cost of rebranding, along with the unplanned acquisition of HMA by Community Health Systems served to delay the decision.

“I am really thrilled that they have now pulled the trigger. It gives us a brand as well as a location,” Krutsch said of changing the name from Summit to Sparks Medical Center – Van Buren.