The search will soon begin for a new top hospital boss at Sparks Health System in Fort Smith and Summit Medical Center in Van Buren.
Naples, Fla.-based Health Management Associates  announced Wednesday (Nov. 28) that Melody Trimble is being promoted to president of the company’s Southern and Western Group, which includes 26 hospitals in seven states. The promotion is effective Jan. 1, 2013. The seven-state region is Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington.
Sparks is owned by Naples, Fla.-based Health Management System, and Summit is operated by HMA through a lease agreement with Crawford County.
Trimble joined Sparks Hospital in the fall of 2009, after the hospital was purchased by HMA in a $138-million deal that closed Nov. 30, 2009.
Prior to arriving in Fort Smith, Trimble served as the CEO of Venice Regional Medical Center since 2005, when HMA bought the financially troubled 312-bed hospital in Venice, Fla. She received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Eastern Kentucky University, and earned a master’s in nursing at the University of Kentucky. Trimble earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Eastern Kentucky University and a master’s in nursing from the University of Kentucky.
Trimble joined HMA in 1991, rising through the ranks to vice president and market CEO of Health Management’s Sparks Health System and Summit Medical Center in Arkansas.
“Melody has been a successful leader throughout her career at Health Management, most recently by growing Sparks into the thriving health system it is today,” Gary Newsome, HMA president and CEO, said in a statement. “With her nursing background, she understands the vital role nurses play in working with physicians to provide high-quality care with a human touch to our patients, and now she can bring that perspective to a larger group of our hospitals.”
Trimble fills the post left open by Joe Pinion, who recently announced his retirement from the company effective at the end of the year. Pinion has agreed to be a consultant to Health Management for a transitional period.
Trimble announced the change to physicians and hospital staff Wednesday afternoon.
“This is one of the toughest decisions I have ever made. Professionally, I am thrilled for the opportunity to have oversight of 26 hospitals, including Sparks and Summit; however, personally, I will miss you, the finest group of physicians, nurses and health care professionals I have ever had the privilege to lead,” Trimble said in a statement. “This community has been so welcoming and wonderful to me. I am forever grateful. And I promise you, the forward momentum we have started here will not stop.”
According to the Sparks statement, Trimble “plans to take her time, working with Sparks and Summit physicians and leaders, to find her replacement. After that, she will relocate to Naples, Florida.”
HMA operates 70 hospitals with approximately 10,500 licensed beds in non-urban communities located throughout the United States.
Shares of HMA (NYSE: HMA) closed Wednesday at $7.92, up 7 cents. During the past 52 weeks the share price has ranged from an $8.69 high to a $4.81 low.