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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy IU Health: IU Health President and CEO Dennis Murphy said plans to open a primary-care office are the first step in a long-term plan that will result in "really a substantial presence in Fort Wayne ... paced over time."

Friday, October 27, 2017 1:13 pm

IU Health to open 1 primary-care office in Fort Wayne

More offices, labs likely in future, but no immediate plans for local hospital

Sherry Slater | The Journal Gazette

IU Health plans to open one local primary care office with up to 15 providers early next year, officials announced today.

Dr. Geoffrey Randolph will lead the new Indiana University Health physician group as chief medical officer. Brian Bauer, former CEO of Lutheran Health Network, has been a paid consultant to IU Health in recent months. He is expected to have a formal role within the organization when the practice opens.

In an exclusive interview, IU Health President and CEO Dennis Murphy told The Journal Gazette that it's the first step in a long-term plan that will result in "really a substantial presence in Fort Wayne ... paced over time."

The announcement marks the second time in as many months that IU Health has revealed plans for Fort Wayne. In September, Riley Children's Health announced plans to invest about $1 million to open a pediatric specialty office on the north side by mid-January.

The 6,000-square-foot leased space at Coldwater and Cook roads will include 12 exam rooms and be wired for telemedicine consultations. But the emphasis will be on in-person visits.

Riley Children's Health and Riley Hospital for Children are under the IU Health umbrella.

Lauren Cislak was unable today to confirm an address for the new primary care office.

The news comes during a shakeup in the local health care market.

A falling-out between some physicians and Lutheran Health Network's parent company, Community Health Systems, has resulted in some local doctors choosing to resign from Lutheran's physician practice and others not having their contracts renewed by CHS.

The doctors contend CHS hasn't invested adequately in Lutheran's eight-hospital network despite a promise made in May to invest $500 million in the system.

Local doctors, elected officials and business leaders contacted IU Health officials, asking them to stem the potential flight of valued physicians, Murphy said.

"We understood there was an opportunity in the community," he said. "We're not sure what it's going to evolve to."

Next steps would likely be the addition of a multi-specialty practice and then more primary care offices, which will include lab and imaging services, Murphy said.

But the first priority, he added, is successfully launching the Riley and primary care offices and gauging how the community responds. IU Health has no immediate plans to build a Fort Wayne hospital.

For more on this story, see Saturday's print edition of The Journal Gazette or visit www.journalgazette.net after 1 a.m. Saturday.

sslater@jg.net