Health Management Associates to Open Service Center, Employ 500 at Fort Smith

Health Management Associates of Naples, Fla., said Thursday that it will open a new regional service center in Fort Smith, employing 500 at an annual payroll of $21 million.

Health Management is the parent company for Sparks Regional Medical Center and Summit Medical Center.

The center will serve 27 Health Management hospitals with functions such as billing, insurance verification, scheduling and collections as well as other shared services. 

The 90,000-SF center will be located at 4600 Towson Ave., the site of the former Phoenix Village Mall. The property is scheduled to be ready for occupancy in early July.

"Health Management is consistently looking for ways to improve our patients' experience and we are proud to continue our investment in the Fort Smith region with the development of this new Regional Service Center,” Kerry Gillespie, Health Management's executive vice president, said in a news release.

Health Management has 71 hospitals in 15 states with about 10,500 licensed beds and more than 42,000 workers.

"Health Managements' decision to locate the Arkansas Regional Service Center in Fort Smith is a testament to our quality of place and workforce," Tim Allen, president of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, said in a news release. "The Fort Smith Chamber continues to promote this community as a great place to do business and it is.

"Fort Smith has had its [fair] share of setbacks over the last couple of years, but I believe our best days are yet to come."

Fort Smith had long been a manufacturing hub in Arkansas, but much of that base had disappeared in the last decade. The decline of the local manufacturing sector culminated last year when Whirlpool Corp. closed its appliance manufacturing facility, leaving 1,000 workers without a job. But the company had employed more than 4,000 as recently as 2007.