IU Health planning 3 Fort Wayne facilities, maybe more later

This building at Aboite Center Road and West Jefferson Boulevard is a likely spot for a new IU Health medical facility. (Photo by Lisa Esquivel of The News-Sentinel)
Brian Bauer

Indiana University Health system plans to open three facilities in Fort Wayne and perhaps substantially more later.

In an announcement expected Thursday morning, the Indianapolis-based network will build two large outpatient facilities of more than 20,000 square feet each, one northeast and one near the Lutheran Hospital southwest, and convert an additional facility, believed to be at West Jefferson Boulevard and Aboite Center Road, into a primary care medical office.

The investment will be in the “tens of millions” of dollars, according to a source, who said some of the facilities will open next year. Land for the new facilities has already been purchased, but construction will require site approval by city or county planners.

“IU is committed (to Fort Wayne) for the long-term”, said the source, who said construction of a full-service hospital, probably downtown, is possible later.

Brian Bauer, who was fired as CEO of Lutheran Health Network by parent company Community Health Systems of Nashville after a locally led group failed in its $2.4 billion bid to acquire the network in May, will serve as CEO of IU Health Fort Wayne, the source said.

The number of jobs to be created is uncertain, but the source said many doctors and other medical personnel would be interested in working for IU Health because they have been “less than satisfied” with existing opportunities in Fort Wayne. When the group led by a team of local doctors made their offer, many said CHS had diverted profits from Lutheran Health to subsidize money-losing operations elsewhere, resulting in a lack of maintenance and adequate staffing and equipment.

CHS has said it intends to invest $500 million in Lutheran Health Network and recently announced plans to replace St. Joseph Hospital with another downtown facility. The source said IH Health’s future plans will not be influenced by whatever CHS does or does not do.

IU Health’s interest in Fort Wayne has been rumored for months, and some suggested it would have become involved had the local group’s effort to buy Lutheran Health succeeded. IU Health confirmed that interest last month when it announced Riley Children’s Hospital would open a facility at 409 E. Cook Road specializing in pediatric urology and cardiology.

IH Health bills itself as “Indiana’s most comprehensive health care system,” with more than $6 billion in annual revenues, 15 hospitals, 2,000 employed doctors, and 117,000 admissions and 2.6 million outpatient visits annually. A spokesman told The News-Sentinel earlier this week IU Health had no announcements planned this week.

Lutheran Hospital spokesman Geoff Thomas declined to comment, saying that until specific information is made available, “it’s all conjecture.”


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