Lutheran Health plans $500 million investment

May 15th, 2017

By Lisa Esquivel Long | The News-Sentinel

Lutheran Health Network announced Thursday evening that it plans to invest $500 million in its hospitals over the next five to six years, with some of the work beginning next week.

The plan is to enhance patient care, partly by consolidating similar services into the same building, increase access to health services that includes adding several outpatient centers and upgrade its hospitals' designs. Improvements will be made at all eight of its hospitals: Bluffton Regional Medical Center, Dukes Memorial Hospital, Dupont Hospital, Kosciusko Community Hospital, Lutheran Hospital, the Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Wayne, St. Joseph Hospital and the Orthopedic Hospital.

The capital campaign will be in addition to the nearly $400 million that's been invested in Lutheran Health Network over the past decade, according to a news release.

Brian Bauer, chief executive officer of Lutheran Health Network, said in the release, “Combined with our continued investment in the employees of LHN, this significant plan underscores our commitment to provide top-quality care for our patients. We are going to improve and expand our hospitals and we're doing it with a focus on modernized designs that create the best possible experience for our patients – and a streamlined, effective environment for the physicians and employees who deliver care. Our various boards, medical staffs, patients and employees will be engaged in developing and finalizing these investments to serve our communities.”

The changes include:

*Facility refreshing: A top-to-bottom renovation of Lutheran Hospital to upgrade and update numerous patient and guest services areas with a focus on convenient access, modern design and efficient patient care.

*Emergency department expansion: A major renovation of the hospital's emergency department will take place, including a new eight-bed transition unit for short-term patient monitoring, which will free up exam and treatment space during busy periods to improve patient wait times. Phase 1 of this project will begin next week.

*Heart and vascular center: Creating a comprehensive outpatient cardiovascular center attached to the existing heart pavilion to bring all specialized services and cardiovascular physician practices to one facility for ease of patient access.

*Advanced digestive treatment center: Consolidation of two separate endoscopy suites, diagnostic testing and therapeutics into one advanced care center for the increasing number of patients.

*Outpatient services: Adding several outpatient centers to provide close-to-home urgent and walk-in care, diagnostic imaging, laboratory, family medicine, therapies and other healthcare services in counties beyond Allen County.

"In addition to improving our network facilities, this investment will create construction jobs and have a positive economic impact on our communities,” Bauer said in the release.

Lutheran Health Network estimates its economic impact was around $618 million in 2016. The network paid local taxes totaling $17.7 million, according to the release.

The release says Lutheran Health Network has made other important investments including recruiting 173 physicians to network hospital medical staffs over the past seven years, including primary care physicians and specialists in areas such as neurology, cardiology, orthopedics, general surgery and emergency medicine. It has added seven physicians so far this year.

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