Baptist Health’s Hospitals in Fort Smith, Van Buren Welcome New Chief Medical Officer, VP of Operations

FORT SMITH, Ark. – Baptist Health-Fort Smith and Baptist Health-Van Buren recently welcomed two new members of their leadership team in western Arkansas.

Shane Jennings, MD, is now the chief medical officer for Baptist Health’s hospitals and clinics in western Arkansas and will provide leadership and support to its providers. 

The Arkansas native earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville before earning his medical degree from AUC School of Medicine. He also worked as an EMT/Paramedic in Arkansas prior to attending medical school. Dr. Jennings later went on to complete a residency in emergency medicine at State University of New York (SUNY). He also completed a fellowship in hyperbaric medicine at SUNY. 

Dr. Jennings has more than a decade of experience in leadership, teaching and most recently served as associate professor of emergency medicine, associate program director for the emergency medicine residency, and fellowship director for the medical education fellowship at the University of Kansas Health System Kansas City.  Prior to that he was an associate professor at the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW). 

Christian Gross will take on the role of vice president of operations at Baptist Health-Fort Smith and Baptist Health-Van Buren.

Gross is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and earned a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and is a part of the Executive Healthcare Administration Program at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He most recently served as the director of operations with HCA Healthcare overseeing their urgent care service line in Denver, Colorado. Prior to his time at HCA, Gross spent four years in various leadership roles focused on care connectivity and strategic growth with UMC Health System in Lubbock.

“Both Dr. Jennings and Christian have a proven track record in improving health care in the communities they serve,” said Jeffrey Carrier, FACHE, region president for Baptist Health. “I am grateful for their future leadership as we continue expanding Baptist Health’s healing ministry in the River Valley.” 


About Baptist Health

For more than a century, Baptist Health has delivered All Our Best in health care through Christian compassion and innovative services. Baptist Health is Arkansas’ most comprehensive health care organization with more than 250 points of access that include 11 hospitals; urgent care centers; a senior living community; over 100 primary and specialty care clinics; a college with studies in nursing and allied health; a graduate residency program; and access to virtual care anytime, anywhere. It is also the largest private not-for-profit health care organization based in Arkansas, providing care through the support of approximately 11,000 employees, groundbreaking treatments, renowned physicians and community outreach programs. For more information about Baptist Health, visit, call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST or download the myBaptistHealth app