Visit El Dorado
Live Here
Do Business Here
Chamber of Commerce
« View All News

SARH replaces MCSA; nonprofit model offers lower costs, more say for patients

Posted on July 10, 2023


South Arkansas Regional Hospital officially replaced Medical Center of South Arkansas as the region’s primary hospital over the weekend, transitioning the center of health care in El Dorado from a for-profit, corporate model to a locally-governed nonprofit framework.

“The hospital is now back in the hands of the community,” SARH spokesman Dr. Brian Jones said.

Instead of an out-of-state corporate headquarters to answer to, SARH will be governed by a 10-member Board of Directors made up of Chair Steve Cousins, Vice Chair Dr. Brian Jones, Steve Cosse, Chris Hegi, Steve Cameron, Nurse Practitioner Marcia Ford, Dr. Steve Smart, Andrew Clyde, Donnie Smith and Dr. Stephanie Gardner.

Dr. Johnnie Hinton III will represent the hospital’s physicians to the board as Chief of Staff, and Dr. Kenneth Gati is Vice Chief of Staff.

Also, in early June, SARH announced a new leadership team comprised of interim President Danna Wagnon Taylor, Chief Nursing Officer Amber Rollins and Chief Financial Officer Marita Caldwell.

Jones said the leadership team was selected organizations who contributed to the purchase of the hospital were given a proportional number of board seats based on their contributions.

“Later it was decided whoever is the standing chief of medical staff and vice chief of medical staff would also join the board as ex officio members,” Jones said.

A week in, and Jones said the excitement at SARH is palpable.

“I think there is a spring in everyone’s step. You can just feel the excitement,” Jones said. “Employees, physicians and the community seem excited to have their hospital back in local hands.”


It’s almost hard to imagine health care without a profit motive, but that’s exactly what SARH is.

In April, the then-newly established SARH announced its purchase of MCSA, which was previously owned by Community Health Systems, a national health care company that owns 77 hospitals across 15 states, mostly in the south, according to its website.

Funding the purchase were a group of nonprofits that includes the SHARE Foundation (where Jones is President and CEO and which shares several board members with SARH), the Murphy USA Charitable Foundation, the Murphy Foundation and AR Health Ventures.

Jones said now that the hospital is based on a nonprofit model, more people will have access to medical services.

“Big difference. The charity threshold has gone from 100% of the federal poverty line to 200% — a doubling,” he said in an email Thursday. “For instance, under MCSA, a family of four would have to have made under $30,000 to qualify for charity care. That is now $60,000 and below for a family of four.”

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, charity care refers to free or discounted services for low-income patients.

Additionally, any profits the hospital does make will be reinvested back into the facility and services.

“Nonprofit means any margins the hospital has annually will be reinvested back into the hospital to purchase up-to-date equipment, maintain competitive salaries and make sure the physical plant is kept in top condition,” Jones said. “In the past, as a for profit, a percentage of margins had to go back into investor’s back pockets. That is no longer the case.”

And the community will have a say in how those profits are spent.

“After the (Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare) was passed in 2010, nonprofit hospitals were required to do a community needs assessment every three years. SARH will not be required to do that,” Jones said. “It will involve input from the community to design the assessment and then the hospital has to develop plans on how to meet the needs of the community.”


Jones said all of the doctors that were employed at MCSA and the vast majority of nurses and administrative staff all moved over to SARH.

“Gynecology is a separate entity owned by three local physicians, but yes, (behavioral health) and all other services offered by MCSA are now offered by SARH,” he said.

The transition from MCSA to SARH will be ongoing for several months as the new hospital entity re-stabilizes departments previously supported by shared services at the CHS corporate level. After that, the hospital’s new leadership team will work with physicians and other hospital staff members to develop a strategic plan for the next five years of SARH, according to a press release.

“We are still in phase one, still uncoupling ourselves from the old systems and setting up new systems in their place. In some cases, we are continuing to ‘lease’ systems from the old owner for an overall smoother transition later,” Jones said. “There is still a lot of work to do.”

Other services at the hospital include critical care medicine, diagnostic imaging, emergency services, heart care, laboratory services, maternity care, orthopedic services, rehabilitation services, respiratory care, stroke care, surgical services and wound care and hyperbaric medicine.


In 2021, MCSA came under fire from doctors, nurses and other staff members for policies doctors said negatively impacted patient care amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The complaints ranged from understaffing in the ICU to ineffective disease control protocols, among others.

The uprising ultimately resulted in then-CEO Scott Street’s resignation, along with that of several other MCSA executives. Street was replaced in 2022 by David Fox. Jones said Fox will not be joining the SARH faculty.

Now that SARH has been established, local residents will have more recourse for any issues that arise, since the hospital will be led by their neighbors. Jones said he hopes local residents will volunteer their time and any funds they can to the local endeavor.

“Volunteers are really needed at the hospital to support patient care, serve at the gift shop and greet and direct visitors,” he said.

To support the hospital financially, the SARH Foundation has also been established, where local residents can give tax deductible donations to support medical services in their community.

The hospital is operating under a set of values which, according to a press release, the nonprofit believes bind patients, providers, board members, employees, vendors and stakeholders together, and which be the foundation for decision-making at the facility.

The nonprofit even has an acronym to spell out the values: WE CARE, which stands for Welcoming: Ensuring a friendly environment of care Excellence: Commitment to working and acting exceptionally Compassion: Empathetic and understanding of others Adaptability: Ability to positively adjust in response to changing conditions Respect: Appreciation and consideration of others Equality: Fair treatment without favor.

Taylor, the interim hospital president, said the transition from a for-profit model to a nonprofit one is unprecedented “The process of transitioning from a corporate, for-profit entity to become a locally-owned nonprofit hospital is truly unheard of in this day and age of health care where many hospitals are struggling to survive,” she said. “My team and I are overwhelmed by the support we have received and are very encouraged for the future of health care in south Arkansas.”

Jones said he’s thankful that the community has been open to the changes at of one of the largest employers in the city and most important hospitals in the region.

“I was at the hospital today as new signs were being put up outside and everyone wanted to watch. People were reminding me to make sure we removed the interior signage; I told them, ‘Soon!’” he said. “I believe we are off to a great start. El Dorado always comes through for its people!”

For more information about SARH, visit To contribute financially, visit