Lutheran, Parkview revive Wabash County health care landscape

May 14th, 2018

By Chelsea Boulrisse | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

Over the next couple of months, Wabash County is once again welcoming and celebrating expansion and change, this time in regards to the health-care offerings made available to its residents, creating options and competition in the health- care field unseen before in the county.

On April 30, Lutheran Health Network cut the ribbon on its new medical clinic in Wabash and began serving the community the next day. The new facility features a RediMed clinic on one side with additional medical services such as orthopedics and oncology on the other side. Other specialists, according to COO Matt Lehn, will be regularly commuting down to Wabash from Fort Wayne for appointments.

Lehn added that Lutheran Wabash is expected to create over 30 new jobs in the health-care field.

“We are excited to be here to expand our services to our Wabash friends and neighbors,” Lehn said. “This is our attempt to give Wabash County more options about its health care.”

Barely a mile down the road, Parkview Health is also preparing for the opening of its new hospital. Starting at 6 a.m. on June 27, as stated by Parkview Wabash Hospital President and CEO Marilyn Custer-Mitchell, all operations will transition from the old Parkview Wabash building to its new facility.

In the new building, Custer-Mitchell said, all of its old practices will remain with the addition of a service that has long been absent from Wabash County with the establishment of an OBGYN department and birthing center.

The opening of Lutheran’s clinic on April 30 signified another concept that’s new to health care in Wabash County: choice. Prior to the opening, Parkview was the primary health-care provider in Wabash. For some services now, as Wabash Mayor Scott Long pointed out, citizens will have options for care as well as an expanded list of services offered closer to home.

“Lutheran will offer services here that Parkview won’t be offering and Parkview is going to be offering services these guys can’t offer here,” Long said. “So the overall benefit in my mind is to the citizens of Wabash County and the surrounding areas.”

While both providers agreed that a variety of options would most certainly encourage both Lutheran and Parkview to maintain reputations of quality care, Custer-Mitchell stated that Parkview’s main focus is simply on improving itself instead of trying to keep up with the clinic next door.

“We’re focused on making sure we are picking the best quality service for our patients,” Custer-Mitchell said. “We’re working hard to move that care forward and even step that up a notch. We’re not focused as much on what others are doing, but it makes everybody want to step up their game.”

Moreover, as Lehn pointed out, the ultimate goal is to simply provide the best level of care to Wabash County and the surrounding area, and that where citizens receive that care is less than important.

“I think competition is a great thing,” Lehn said. “We benefit from Parkview’s success and they benefit from us. The goal is to deliver the best health care possible and for Wabash County residents.”

Expanding its local health-care options, according to Grow Wabash County President and CEO Keith Gillenwater, is just one more way that Wabash County is trying to boost its quality of life and hopefully attract more businesses and professionals to the area. With two of Indiana’s largest health-care networks setting up shop along U.S. 24 in Wabash, as well as establishments such Wellbrooke of Wabash and Miller’s Merry Manor, Long envisions a “health care corridor” with every need being fulfilled by one of the many options located within a mile of each other.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for our city,” Long said. “(Lutheran Wabash) gives us another health-care option. Basically, what we’re trying to do is build a health-care corridor so that our citizens are very well served.”