Sparks Health System employees formally and destructively began on Thursday (June 30) the $17 million project to build a modern surgery suite.
Construction of 10 “smart” operating rooms in the second floor of the R.S. Boreham section of Sparks Health System received is valued at $6.934 million, with the remaining money spent on equipment and furnishings. The new surgery center also will include new patient waiting areas and “modern facilities” for pre- and post-op surgery, according to Sparks Marketing & Communication Director Donna Bragg.
The overall cost of the project, which includes a covered walking bridge between buildings, is around $17 million. The second floor was constructed and left open for future expansion as part of the $40 million Sparks “Renaissance” project that created a new entrance, emergency center and other rooms to the hospital. That project was formally opened in February 2009.
Several Sparks employees, physicians, former Sparks trustees and city officials used a gold-painted small sledge hammer to ceremonially bust through a sheetrock wall.
“Mr. President, tear down that wall,” Sparks CEO Melody Trimble said, stealing and paraphrasing an historic line from former President Ronald Reagan, as Dr. Nabil Akkad, Sparks’ chief of surgery, took the first swing at the wall.
Construction is expected to be complete by February 2012, Trimble said.
Cathy Williamson, director of surgical services for the hospital, said the modern surgery center will “take services to a level Fort Smith has never seen.”
The hospital now has nine surgery rooms.
“We’re not sure about that space, about what we will do with it,” Trimble said. “We’ll make a decision on that after this (completion of modern surgery suite).”
Trimble thanked Kate and Hugh Maurras for their support of the project. Kate is the daughter of R.S. Boreham, the former president, CEO and chairman of Baldor Electric Co.
She also thanked the former Sparks Board of Trustees for having the vision to set aside the space for a future expansion. The former trustees present at Thursday’s ceremony were Loretta Parker, Jim Patridge, Jim Walcott and Tom Webb.
The board was disbanded following a more than $138 million buyout of the hospital in late 2009 by Naples, Fla.-based Health Management Associates.