April 29, 2015 Edition

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Sparks at helm for LHS

Gary Sparks of Wynne is serving as administrator of Lawrence Health Services following George Fray's retirement earlier this month.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt

Gretchen Hunt

Gary Sparks of Wynne has been named the interim administrator for Lawrence Health Services through a management contract with St. Bernards.

Sparks began work on April 13, following the retirement of George Fray, whose last day was April 10.

Sparks, who also serves as administrator for CrossRidge Community Hospital in Wynne, said he will serve as interim administrator until the LHS Board of Directors determines whether it is workable for the two facilities to share an administrator.

He said the two hospitals have a lot of similarities.

"They are similar in size, and both are critical access hospitals," Sparks said. "The nursing home is the big difference."

He said they definitely face the same challenges.

"The greatest challenge for any small hospital is maintaining quality while at the same time maintaining profitability with declining reimbursements," he said.

The federal government expects hospitals to have a triple aim, according to Sparks, "quality services, patient satisfaction and as low cost as possible."

He said both hospitals, like most critical access hospitals, have a sales tax, and the private option has been a tremendous help.

"It is still a challenge though," Sparks said. "The nursing home definitely helps with profitability for LHS."

Fray has served as Sparks' boss for the past 10 years, so he already had some familiarity with Lawrence Health Services.

While LHS has a management contract with St. Bernards, CrossRidge is owned by St. Bernards. Sparks has been with CrossRidge since 1999, and prior to that worked for Methodist Health Systems out of Memphis for 21 years at various locations.

He grew up in Memphis and attended Harding College (now Harding University) and holds a bachelor's degree in accounting and a Master of Business Administration.

His wife, Carol, is a medical technologist. They have been married for 34 years and have two grown children, Todd and Allison, and one granddaughter, Noah, who is 15 months old.

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