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The Dose

Welcome to The Dose, which tackles the business and economics inside the turbulent world of health care and life sciences in Indiana. Your host is John Russell. To contact me call 317-472-5383.

St. Vincent adds micro-hospital to Hendricks County's competitive health landscape

February 12, 2018

St. Vincent has opened the latest in its series of “neighborhood hospitals,” this one in fast-growing Hendricks County where competitors are adding dozens of beds in the fierce competition for patients.

St. Vincent opened the hospital Monday at 2412 East Main Street in Plainfield, on a busy commercial corridor about 13 miles west of downtown Indianapolis.

The tiny hospital—about 17,000 square feet and one-tenth the size of a traditional hospital—will include seven emergency beds, eight inpatient beds, imaging, pharmacy and lab services. It is similar in size and design to other small hospitals St. Vincent has opened in recent months in Noblesville and Avon.

St. Vincent is in the process of opening eight so-called "micro-hospitals" in the Indianapolis area. The Plainfield facility is the third to open.

The Indianapolis-based health system did not say how much the Plainfield project cost, but IBJ has previously reported that the neighborhood hospitals cost about $10 million to build and have a staff of about six to eight people.

St. Vincent’s newest hospital is located near a cluster of medical office buildings and immediate care centers in Plainfield but appears to be the first hospital in the city, with a population of about 27,000.

The nearest hospitals are Indiana University Health’s West Hospital in Avon (about six miles away), which is set to undergo an $83 million upgrade this year with 48 new in-patient beds, and St. Vincent’s new neighborhood hospital in Avon (about seven miles away).

A bit farther away, Hendricks Regional Health just opened a $50 million hospital in Brownsburg with six overnight beds, an emergency room, immediate care center, rehabilitation clinic and doctors’ offices. The system’s main hospital, in Danville, has 127 beds.

All of the hospital-focused construction activity underscores that Hendricks is the second-fastest growing county in Indiana, where residential developments and retail projects are springing up almost non-stop and pushing demand for health care.

Some observers have expressed concern that all the expansion is adding hospital beds in a region already saturated with unused beds, while payers demand lower-cost settings, such as urgent care centers and outpatient surgery centers, for many treatments.

St. Vincent says its neighborhood hospitals provide fast, convenient service, with free parking, exam rooms just a few steps from the front door, and waiting times of 15 minutes or less to see a doctor.

But critics have said the tiny hospitals will allow owners to game the system by charging full hospital rates to Medicare and private insurers.

The criticism has not deterred St. Vincent. It is moving ahead with plans to open five more, including locations in Castleton and Greenwood within the next few weeks.

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