LANSING, Mich. - Leaders from Sparrow and Ionia County Memorial Hospital (ICMH) today announced a formal agreement that will allow ICMH to join the Sparrow family and be known as Sparrow Ionia Hospital effective Jan. 1, 2010. This agreement represents the next step in a successful partnership between the two organizations that began in 2006. "This is a phenomenal opportunity for Sparrow and Ionia to continue to partner in the growth and development of health care in mid-Michigan," said Dennis A. Swan, president and chief executive officer of Sparrow. "Sparrow is pleased to demonstrate its continued commitment to the residents of Ionia County by cementing our relationship with Ionia County Memorial Hospital and working together to improve the health of the people in our communities by providing quality, compassionate care to everyone, every time." "Today is a day of celebration for Ionia County," said Dan Balice, chairman of the Ionia County Memorial Hospital Board and mayor of Ionia. "Becoming a part of the region's leading health system will secure the future of health care in our community. Sparrow's presence at Ionia will allow us to preserve and enhance one of Ionia County's most vital resources." In 2006, Sparrow and Ionia entered into a management agreement aimed at improving local access to high quality health care services for residents living in and around Ionia County. This partnership has already paid significant dividends for Ionia residents. For example, Emergency Medical Associates, PLLC - a physicians group that staffs Sparrow's emergency department and Level One trauma center - also provides care at Ionia's emergency department. This provides Ionia County residents with the advantages of the high-quality, 24/7 emergency care found in a large regional hospital with the convenience and comfort of an established community hospital close to home. In another example of the benefits of this partnership, in January Ionia is scheduled to receive a 64-slice CT scanner from Sparrow that will replace its 8-year-old 4-slice machine. This newer model provides the ability to capture better images in less time. "Ionia and our 265 associates are excited to formally join the Sparrow family," said Bill Roeser, chief executive officer of Ionia County Memorial Hospital. "This is great news for the residents of Ionia County, as we continue to provide high-quality, compassionate care and create a foundation for economic growth in our community.