Florida Firm Signs Deal to Buy Sparks Health System

Health Management Associates Inc. of Naples, Fla., announced Wednesday that it had signed an agreement to acquire Sparks Health System of Fort Smith. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Sparks trustees had announced in August a letter of intent to sell the 492-bed health system to Health Management Associates, with plans to close the deal in the fourth quarter.

In March, Sparks had announced plans to be acquired by a division of Jackson Healthcare LLC of Alpharetta, Ga. That deal, however, was called off in June.

“We are very happy that we’ve been able to reach this agreement with HMA,”

Judy Boreham, Sparks board chairman, said in a news release. “This is the culmination of a lot of hard work and focus from a great group of dedicated people. We’ve said all along that our goals for any transaction were clear: providing the highest quality health care to the community, continuing employment for our loyal and dedicated staff, and long-term financial viability to Sparks. We feel confident that HMA is the right partner to accomplish those goals.”

Frederick Woodrell, CEO of Sparks Health System, echoed Boreham’s comments. “One important point for everyone is to know that this is, without a doubt, a great thing for Sparks and the Fort Smith region. HMA will allow our long-term strategic goals to progress more rapidly, resulting in numerous positive changes for our patients.”

Gary D. Newsome, HMA’s president and CEO, said in a news release, “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to continue serving the Fort Smith community by broadening our presence with the acquisition of the Sparks Health System.”

Once it acquires Sparks, HMA said, it will own and operate 55 hospitals, with about 8,400 licensed beds, in communities throughout the United States.

The Arkansas Trauma Advisory Council in August approved Sparks Regional Medical Center as a Level 2 hospital in the state’s new trauma system.

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