Baptist Health Holds Grand Opening Ceremonies at Hospitals in Fort Smith, Van Buren

FORT SMITH, Ark. – Baptist Health leaders as well as local officials came together Tuesday, Nov. 13, for grand opening events outside the system’s newly acquired hospitals in Fort Smith and Van Buren.

Ribbon cutting ceremonies were held at 10 a.m. in front of Baptist Health-Fort Smith and at 1 p.m. outside Baptist Health-Van Buren.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm around Baptist Health aligning with the outstanding reputation of this team of dedicated physicians and caregivers,” said Troy Wells, president and CEO of Baptist Health. “We hope to compliment the quality of care that the River Valley has come to expect.”

Harrison Dean, who has been with Baptist Health for 35 years, is now Region President of Western Arkansas/Eastern Oklahoma Region. He oversees the system’s hospitals in Fort Smith and Van Buren as well as affiliated physician clinics, and has responsibilities to align the region with Baptist Health’s resources.

Dean previously served as Senior Vice President of Regional Hospitals and as Administrator of Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock. He was instrumental in the construction of Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway, which opened in 2016.

“I’m humbled to think of the opportunities we have for the state’s first hospital in Fort Smith joining Baptist Health,” Dean said. “As we serve more people, Baptist Health will continue to provide faith-based health care that strengthens communities we serve and encourages healthy lifestyle changes, which is consistent with our belief that we are more than a business – we are a healing ministry.”

In July, Baptist Health entered into a definitive purchase agreement with Sparks Health System. That transaction was finalized Nov.1 after regulatory, legal and operational due-diligence examinations.

“We’ve been looking forward to this day,” said Brandon Bullard, COO and vice president of finance for Fort Smith and Van Buren. “Our approximately 1,600 employees have been counting the days to Baptist Health’s arrival. Cutting the ribbon today is just another exciting step in this amazing journey.”

More information about Baptist Health’s operations in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma can be found by visiting

About Baptist Health: Baptist Health is an Arkansas-based, locally owned and managed, not-for-profit, and faith-based health-care organization. Baptist Health is also Arkansas’ most comprehensive health-care organization with more than 200 access points and approximately 11,000 employees operating 11 hospitals. For more information about Baptist Health, visit Find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram or YouTube.