Franciscan, St. Vincent set to battle for patients on south side

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It might be too strong to call it an all-out turf war. But starting this summer, Indiana’s two Catholic health systems will be competing for patients at hospitals just a few blocks apart on the south side.

St. Vincent Health is finishing construction on a small, eight-bed hospital with an emergency room, imaging center and pharmacy at 8451 S. Emerson Ave., just off the County Line Road exit off of Interstate 65.

That’s just a stone’s throw away from Franciscan Health’s massive, 453-bed, full-service hospital at 8111 S. Emerson Ave. Franciscan opened that hospital more than two decades ago.

“We do find it quite curious as to the rationale behind building a micro-hospital a mere quarter-mile south of Franciscan Health Indianapolis,” Franciscan spokesman Joe Stuteville said. “We have operated a full-service hospital, providing both inpatient and outpatient care and emergency services to people in this area since 1995.”

St. Vincent is offering no apologies to locating a new hospital just a few blocks down the road.

“As one clinically integrated network with many locations, we select our sites to be close and convenient for patients who wish to access our services,” St. Vincent spokeswoman Tangela Floyd said.

That means the two health systems will directly compete for emergency and acute-care patients just a few blocks apart. St. Vincent's small hospital, however, will not offer surgeries or long-term acute care.

The area is bustling with dozens of neighborhoods and subdivisions within a few minutes’ drive, including Southern Springs, Richmond Hill, Sherman Commons, Winchester Village, Grand View Acres and Perry Manor. Also in the area are numerous schools and shopping centers.

Franciscan expanded its hospital over the decades with a patient tower, larger cancer center and expanded emergency room.

For St. Vincent, the new hospital is the latest in its series of micro-hospitals—or as the Indianapolis-based health system calls them, “neighborhood hospitals.” The 16,000-square-foot buildings, less than one-third the size of a football field, are bigger than urgent-care centers, but much smaller than traditional hospitals.

St. Vincent touts the compact hospitals as more convenient than traditional, large hospitals. But some critics have called the entire class of micro-hospitals as glorified emergency rooms that stand to make huge profits.

In recent months, St. Vincent has opened four of the small hospitals, in Noblesville, Avon, Plainfield and in Castleton. It plans to open the Emerson Avenue location in late June or early summer, Floyd said. After that, three more are planned for Greenwood, Brownsburg and Noblesville.

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