IU Health clinic opening Aug. 1 will improve access, quality of medical care in Fort Wayne
By Kevin Leininger | News-Sentinel
IU Health will open a primary care office at 7230 Engle Road on Aug. 1, but officials say its presence in Fort Wayne won’t stop there.
“Our goal is to make Indiana one of the healthiest states, and this (facility) is indicative of our long-term commitment to Fort Wayne,” President of Health System Clinical Services Ron Stiver said before giving reporters a tour of the 10,000-square-foot, 20-room facility that initially will be home to Dr. Chung Ning Tan, Physicians Assistant Sarah Almonroeder and a support staff of about 17. By the end of the year, the staff of physicians could grow to six, according to IU’s chief medical officer in Fort Wayne, Dr. Geoff Randolph.
Randolph noted there were three independent health networks in Fort Wayne when he began practice more than 31 years ago — Lutheran, St. Joseph and Parkview — and said IU’s entry will again provide a third alternative (Lutheran and St. Joe have since merged) that will make care more accessible while increasing its quality. Randolph was fired as Lutheran Health Network’s chief medical officer in June after a group led by local physicians made an unsuccessful $2.4 billion bid to buy the network from Community Health Systems of Nashville, Tenn.
Initially, the small Engle Road staff will cater mostly to individual patients but could seek corporate accounts as the office grows. A lab will be on site initially, and a pharmacy and other features could be added later. The office will offer same-day appointments that can be booked by smartphone, tablet or computer.
IU Health, the state’s largest healthcare system, said last year it would expand into the Fort Wayne market in response to the community’s growing need for primary care, Stiver said. IU Health foresees a long-term presence in this market, with more outpatient locations and additional facilities and investments coming over time. He would not discuss plans. IU Health also operates a Riley Children’s Health pediatric specialty care office at 415 E. Cook Road.
The News-Sentinel has previously reported that IU Health is also considering a primary care facility on the northeast side and is interested in a downtown presence as well. LHN has also said it is considering a replacement for St. Joseph Hospital, and Randolph said that could influence what IU Health ultimately does downtown.
IU Health bills itself as “Indiana’s most comprehensive health care system,” with more than $6 billion in annual revenue, 15 hospitals, 2,000 employed doctors, and 117,000 admissions and 2.6 million outpatient visits annually.