Sparks, Triad Partnership Moves Forward

Almost 10 months after the letter of intent was signed, the board of trustees of Sparks Health System in Fort Smith has approved a definitive agreement for a new joint venture with Triad Hospitals Inc. of Plano, Texas.

The deal is expected to close on Oct. 1, and all Sparks employees "will be offered employment by Triad at market-competitive rates of compensation and will be eligible for the Triad benefit package," according to a statement released by the Sparks trustees.

The two partners will form a new company called Sparks Regional Health System LLC, with Triad owning 80 percent of the venture and the renamed Sparks Community Foundation retaining a 20 percent interest. A 10-member board of directors will be split between representatives of the Fort Smith community and Triad, with at least one physician among each delegation.

"The board also will employ bloc voting for decisions, which essentially

means that the community and Triad each will have an equal voice in

corporate governance," the trustees said.

The new company will manage the existing Sparks Regional Medical Center and will build a 260-room hospital in Fort Smith at a cost of about $139 million. Construction will take up to three years.

Triad currently operates nine hospitals in Arkansas, but Sparks will become the largest Arkansas affiliate.