If happy patients are any indication, IU Health’s entry into the Fort Wayne market is a resounding success.
Indiana University Health’s surveys of local patients have returned some of the highest satisfaction ratings seen throughout the Indianapolis-based system, according to Ron Stiver, IU Health’s president of System Clinical Services.
“I feel like we’ve been welcomed with open arms,” he said Thursday.
Stiver was in Fort Wayne to break ground on a $10 million medical office building at Stellhorn and Lahmeyer roads. The Journal Gazette first reported on the investment in April.
The 25,000-square-foot facility will offer primary and urgent care, advanced imaging and full laboratory services.
The medical office is projected to open in April or May 2020. Witwer Construction is the builder.
The northeast Fort Wayne site is IU Health’s first investment in construction.
The health care provider’s first local primary care office opened in leased space at 7230 Engle Road, off West Jefferson Boulevard, in August 2018. A second primary care office is scheduled to open next month at 10215 Auburn Road, off Dupont Road.
A fourth location is also in the works, but details weren’t readily available Thursday.
Stiver cautioned not to read too much into the organization’s choice to lease space. It makes sense when it’s available, he said. The choice to build doesn’t represent a deeper commitment as much as it reflects a lack of available, appropriate office space on the city’s northeast side, he added.
Brian Bauer, IU Health Fort Wayne’s president, said the brick-and-mortar project is “further evidence” of the health care provider’s commitment to Fort Wayne.
“This is probably the most visible sign of our commitment to date,” he added.
But certainly not the last. Bauer expects to preside over at least two more groundbreakings before the Lahmeyer-Stellhorn office opens in about 12 months. He declined to provide details.
“Buildings are great,” he said, “but we remain focused on building our team.”
Recruiting providers was on the minds of Mayor Tom Henry and Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters, who also spoke at the groundbreaking. About 40 people attended the event under gray, cloudy skies.
Henry said local officials are trying to make northeast Indiana a destination for various reasons – including health care.
Peters said business leaders evaluate communities before deciding where to invest. Among the criteria, he said, are the quality of trails, sidewalks, housing and education.
“But health care has become paramount,” Peters said. “It has become second to none.”
Some patients apparently think IU Health is a great place to get that health care. Thousands of patients have visited the Engle Road location so far, Bauer said, adding that the office is seeing “well over 1,000 patients a month.”