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Tim Schmidt named interim CEO at Sparks Health, Summit Medical

story by Ryan Saylor
rsaylor@thecitywire.com

It didn't take long for Sparks Health System to name an interim CEO while the organization conducts a search for a permanent replacement.

According to a statement Thursday (March 13) from Marketing and Communications Director Donna Bragg, Tim Schmidt has been appointed to lead the organization and Summit Medical Center in Van Buren on an interim basis beginning March 20 following the resignation of Charles Stewart earlier this week.

"While the search for a permanent candidate is underway, Tim will provide support to physicians and employees as they continue their work to deliver quality care to patients at Sparks Regional Medical Center and Summit Medical Center," Bragg said.

Schmidt, who has more than 20 years experience in hospital administration, previously served as CEO at hospitals in Illinois, New Mexico and Texas.

Sparks has experienced a tumultuous year, with the hospital having had two CEOs resign within six months of their hirings.

Stewart, who became the top dog at Sparks in September 2013, was hired to replace former CEO Gary Blan, who resigned in May 2013 after having been on the job for less than three months.

Blan was picked to succeed Melody Trimble who was promoted to president of Naples, Fla.-based Health Management Associates' Southern and Western Group, which includes 26 hospitals in seven states. Trimble’s promotion was effective Jan. 1, 2013. The seven-state region is Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington.

Sparks and Summit were part of the sale of HMA to Community Health Systems, a company whose portfolio of hospitals was nearly double the size of HMA's portfolio. Locally, CHS owned four Northwest Arkansas facilities — Northwest Medical Center-Bentonville, Northwest Medical Center-Springdale, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital and Willow Creek Women's Hospital in Johnson. Shares of Community Health Systems (NYSE: CYH) were trading mid-day Thursday at $36.58, down $0.76. During the past 52 weeks, the share price has ranged from a $51.29 high to a $36.39 low.

In announcing Stewart's resignation Wednesday (March 12), Bragg said the company would be looking for a CEO with a high level of experience.

"In our search for our next CEO, we will look for an experienced and motivated hospital leader who will help Sparks Regional Medical Center and Summit Medical Center continue in our commitment to serving the community with excellent health services."

Following is Bragg's complete statement regarding the appointment of Schmidt as interim CEO, as well as the complete announcement Wednesday announcing Stewart's departure:

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• "This morning, Sparks Health System announced that Tim Schmidt has been appointed our interim CEO, effective March 20. While the search for a permanent candidate is underway, Tim will provide support to physicians and employees as they continue their work to deliver quality care to patients at Sparks Regional Medical Center and Summit Medical Center. Tim has more than 20 years of hospital administration experience and has served as CEO of hospitals in Texas, Illinois and New Mexico."

• "Charles Stewart resigned from his position as CEO of Sparks Health System this week. We appreciate his contributions to our health system and wish him well in his future endeavors. Our work to identify a new CEO will begin immediately, and it will include input from our Board of Trustees and medical staff leadership. In our search for our next CEO, we will look for an experienced and motivated hospital leader who will help Sparks Regional Medical Center and Summit Medical Center continue in our commitment to serving the community with excellent health services. We appreciate the dedication of our physicians and employees through this transition as they continue to provide high-quality, compassionate care for our patients."

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