Icon (Close Menu)


Report: Sparks Interim CEO Out After Comment

2 min read

Sparks Health System in Fort Smith and Summit Medical Center in Van Buren on Thursday decided not to hire interim chief executive officer Tim Schmidt after he allegedly made a racially insensitive comment at an employee meeting, according to a story Thursday on TheCityWire.com.

The City Wire reported that during a question-and-answer session with about 100-150 employees, Schmidt was asked why he wanted to leave Laredo, Texas, to move to Fort Smith.

He said, “Have you ever been to Laredo, Texas? It’s 97 percent Hispanic,” according to The City Wire. The hospital’s Hispanic employees and at least one physician said they weren’t happy with the comment, the website reported.

Donna Bragg, a spokeswoman for Sparks, wouldn’t comment on The City Wire’s story, but confirmed Friday that Schmidt “was taken out of consideration for the permanent CEO position. Sparks’ corporate leadership and local board collectively determined that Mr. Schmidt was not the best candidate for the job.”

Schmidt was named interim CEO on March 12 and was touted as having more than 20 years of hospital administration experience at hospitals in Texas, Illinois and New Mexico.

“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 in an email to Arkansas Business in March.

Sparks’ chief operating officer, Jeremy Drinkwitz, is now acting as the interim CEO.

“We do remain committed to finding the right leader for our health system,” Bragg said Friday.

The CEO position has been a revolving door at Sparks since its CEO Melody Trimble was promoted in January 2013 to president of Health Management Associates’ Southern and Western Group. At the time of the promotion, Health Management Associates of Health Management of Naples, Florida, owned Sparks and Summit. In January, Community Health Systems Inc. of Franklin, Tennessee, completed its purchase of Health Management.

After Trimble left, Sparks announced in September that Charles Stewart will oversee Sparks and Summit.

Stewart resigned in March. Bragg declined in March to say why he left. Schmidt then was named as interim CEO.

Send this to a friend