Franciscan Health to close Indiana hospital

Franciscan Health plans to end inpatient and emergency care at its 226-bed hospital in Hammond, Ind., by the end of 2022.

In 2021, the system announced plans to scale down the hospital to a 10-bed inpatient unit and emergency department. Under the new plan announced Nov. 3, inpatient and emergency care will end completely.

Franciscan Health Hammond will close its emergency department by the end of the year. The date inpatient admissions and services will end was not specified. Mishawaka, Ind.-based Franciscan plans to direct patients to its hospitals in Munster and Dyer, which are two and six miles away, respectively. 

Barbara Anderson, interim president and CEO of Franciscan Health Hammond, Dyer and Munster, attributed the decision to close the hospital to low patient volumes. 

"In the last 15 months, we have seen inpatient volume at Franciscan Health Hammond drop to an average of 2.5 patients per day. Of the 54 patients who present to the emergency room each day, more than 90 percent would be better served in a lower-cost setting, such as an urgent care or primary care clinic," Ms. Anderson said in a Nov. 3 statement shared with Becker's. "It is difficult to maintain operational efficiency at these volumes. Had we been able to predict the dramatic decrease in volumes, we would have planned differently at the outset. As a result, Franciscan Health is consolidating its hospital-based services in Munster (Ind.) and Dyer (Ind.) and continuing to offer ambulatory services in Hammond.

"A critical shortage of healthcare workers and a dramatic shift in patients choosing full-service hospitals elsewhere in the county makes it impossible to continue to keep an inpatient facility open that is averaging less than three inpatients per day," Ms. Anderson said. "As such, the Franciscan Alliance Board of Trustees and Franciscan Alliance's Northern Indiana Division Board of Directors approved plans for ceasing inpatient admissions in Hammond and to accommodate those requiring inpatient services at Franciscan's Munster and Dyer campuses. The Hammond Emergency Department, which has also seen a decline in patients, will close at the end of this year."

Franciscan will not completely shutter the hospital site in Hammond. The system is investing $5.3 million to renovate space on its campus for primary care. Other services on the hospital campus — including a clinic for the uninsured, a food market, diaper pantry, prenatal assistance program, primary care clinic, dialysis and women's health center – will continue to operate. 

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said Franciscan has been withdrawing from downtown Hammond for years, redirecting patients elsewhere and then citing low volumes as an excuse to further divest. 

"They are not acting like a nonprofit. This is inconsistent with their stated mission," he told The Times of Northwest Indiana. "This is a perfect example of what's wrong with healthcare in America. You have two health care systems: one for the poor and one for the wealthy. They want to move away from Hammond to places like Crown Point (Ind.)."

In her statement, Ms. Anderson said Franciscan's regional facilities have vacancies that can absorb Hammond employees. "Our goal is to maintain as many staff members with Franciscan as possible," she said. 

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