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Clarian abandons Muncie-area project

November 29, 2007

Clarian Health has decided not to follow through on a medical park it planned near Muncie because, among other reasons, it couldn't sign enough doctors.

The president of the Delaware County commissioners, John Brooke, said a Clarian official told him yesterday that the medical complex wasn't viable because too few doctors were willing to be involved with it.

"Evidently they didn't come forward in the numbers or amounts to make this viable," Brooke said.

Clarian has neither acknowledged nor denied plans for the $75 million office project on 100 acres next to Yorktown. In what Brooke called a "terribly kept secret," the complex was to have employed 180 people.

John Mills, a spokesman for the Indianapolis hospital, said he had no knowledge that conversations underway in the Muncie area in recent years had ended, but that he also didn't know how far the conversations had gone.

Brooke suspects the doctors hesitated partly because the project stirred controversy and loyalty to the Ball Memorial Hospital home team.

Brooke said media coverage took an anti-Clarian tone because Clarian was viewed as competing with local providers. Letters to the editor opposing the project also likely influenced doctors, he said.

Meanwhile, Ball Memorial officials made a push to smooth feathers with doctors who were alienated by a former hospital chief, Brooke said.

Ball Memorial officials have complained that Clarian intended to skim off the most profitable business and leave them to care for the uninsured and those with the least lucrative insurance plans.
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