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Wabash hospital to join Parkview

New health care facility planned as part of affiliation

A new partnership is bringing a new hospital to Wabash.

Parkview Health on Wednesday announced plans to affiliate with Wabash County Hospital.

As part of the agreement, the two nonprofits eventually will build a health care facility in Wabash County. Marilyn Custer-Mitchell, Wabash County Hospital’s president and CEO, said her hospital needs a new building but can’t afford to pay for one on its own – despite having what she described as significant cash savings.

Wabash County Hospital, which has 25 beds, is a critical access hospital that offers cancer treatment, cardiology, emergency, physical therapy and other services.

Its board began exploring the idea of an affiliation late last year. Officials cited changes in reimbursement as one of several factors that led to the decision. Larger organizations can negotiate for better deals with insurance companies, Custer-Mitchell said.

The need for a new building also led hospital board members to open talks with Parkview, Indiana University Health and Lutheran Health Network’s parent company, Community Health Systems Inc.

IU Health was quickly eliminated from consideration, Custer-Mitchell said.

Parkview and Community, a for-profit system, submitted proposals and discussed options with Wabash County Hospital officials.

The hospital’s nonprofit status was not the deciding factor in steering its decision toward Parkview, she said.

The partnership’s structure is still being finalized. A signed letter of intent is the next step in the process; that will be followed by formal negotiations.

Custer-Mitchell doesn’t know what size the new hospital will be or whether the deal will alter the current practice of allowing doctors and patients to sway where critical patients are transferred. Each deal is unique.

“Our counsel has told us, ‘When you’ve seen one of these (agreements), you’ve seen one of these,’ ” she said.

Headquartered in Fort Wayne, Parkview Health includes eight hospitals and employs about 8,700.

Wabash County Hospital employs about 330 and collected about $33 million in revenue last year.

sslater@jg.net

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