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A Community of Care in East Central Indiana

Health care systems deliver services to their neighbors across the region.

By Patsy B. Weiler on May 15, 2023

Health care in East Central Indiana

A healing wind is moving through East Central Indiana – rustling across the cornfields, dancing through the cities and blowing in a growing vision of compassionate community health and wellness.

The area’s network of health care systems is working in tandem with local providers and leaders, assuring residents they will have access to expert care and helping remove barriers for traditionally underserved groups.

‘Trust-Based Relationships’

Calling the soon-to-be-built Bishop H. Royce Mitchell Social Services Hub at Urban Light Community Church a “big deal,” Maria A. Wilson, associate pastor of social services and mental health, says the new facility will be the first of its kind built in Industry, a historically Black Muncie community.

Construction of the building is being funded by a $654,000 Impact Investment Fund grant, presented by IU Health to develop the social services hub during the next three years. 

In the East Central Indiana region, which includes IU Health Ball, Blackford and Jay hospitals, its total community investment in 2021 was nearly $39.4 million.

The hub will feature offices for a family clinic, health screenings, and mental and behavioral health services, as well as space for community meetings and assistance for those re-entering the community after incarceration. Part of the money also will help the operation of a nearby six-bed home for men in recovery.

Although the church had been providing social services for its neighbors, the need had outgrown its space and staffing capabilities.

 “We will be a place where trust-based relationships can grow between health care providers and people who otherwise would not go to a medical professional,” Wilson says. “We are in our own community trying to help one person at a time. We must be there for each other.”

Also in Muncie, Meridian Health hosts a calendar of events, including the Rialzo, East Central Indiana’s largest charity gala, raising money ($470,000 in 2022 for addiction and recovery programs) and awareness to provide leading health and wellness services for the region.

Snagging a spot on Chartis Center for Rural Health’s 2022 list of the Top 100 Rural & Community Hospitals in the U.S., this is the fifth year Marion Health has earned the honor. 

Health care in East Central Indiana

Funds Assist Families

Just south on Highway 3 in Rushville, the Rush Memorial Hospital Foundation has given out $45,000 during the last four years from the Brian’s Cause Cancer Relief Treatment Fund. The fund honoring the late Brian Connor, a lifelong Rush County resident diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, helps families battling cancer and needing financial assistance. 

 “We do have a compassionate and giving community in Rush County. They genuinely care for people and support the work of the Rush Memorial Hospital Foundation,” says Theresa Alexander, foundation director. “Their generosity helps to provide vital health care services for their neighbors.”

The foundation also administers the Jake McKee Heart of Gold fund, started when a local child died suddenly from a heart defect. To date, nearly 400 youth echo heart screenings have been completed.

Henry Community Health, through its Henry County Hospital Foundation, enhances its local health care offerings by providing monthly food distribution for Wilbur Wright Elementary School families and free women’s health screenings twice a year.

Rush Memorial Hospital Foundation has given out $45,000 during the last four years from the Brian’s Cause Cancer Relief Treatment Fund.

Removing Barriers  

Previously known as RUAH, the Ascension St. Vincent Health Access Program has been providing social services to residents of Randolph County since 2001.

Health advocates employed by the program address social impediments to the community’s health, including anything from assisting patients with health insurance enrollment to transportation.

“Our Health Access advocates live out the Ascension Mission daily,” says Ann Varner, Ascension St. Vincent chief mission integration officer. “Our purpose is to connect our friends, family and neighbors to a comprehensive, integrated delivery network of health, human and social services, resulting in improved access and the removal of barriers to needed resources.”

Reid Health
Reid Health

Expanding Services

Additional care will soon be available in East Central Indiana, as two major health care expansions are underway.

Marion Health East, a new $80 million facility, is opening this year, expanding services to an underserved area that has limited access to emergency care. The four-story, 100,000-square-foot building sits on approximately 100 acres just northeast of the Interstate 69 and State Route 22 junction. 

Stephanie Hilton-Siebert, Marion Health president and CEO, notes the hospital fills a void on the Interstate 69 corridor.

“There is a stretch of 93 miles on I-69 where there are no convenient options for emergency services,” she says. “The Marion Health Innovation and Medical Campus meets the need for nearby accessible care for both travelers and our local community.”  

The hospital and existing buildings will offer emergency services, including a helipad. Also, it will provide acute and ambulatory care – including orthopedic services, rehabilitation and outpatient clinics, a family medicine outpatient clinic and a multispecialty outpatient clinic, radiology and laboratory – and flexibility for future growth.

“This expansion of Marion Health will bring convenient, state-of-the-art care to our community in the southeastern region of Grant County,” Hilton-Siebert says.

Reid Health has big plans to keep a modern health care system in Connersville, with a $100 million-plus investment designed to serve current and future generations. Slated to open in 2024, the new, two-story, 177,000-square-foot facility is being built on a former Kmart location at 2500 Park Road. It will replace the current Virginia Avenue building, whose origins date back more than a century.

The site under construction will have more than 400 parking spaces and a helipad – Fayette County’s first in nearly 30 years – located adjacent to emergency services that can provide quick transport to a Level I trauma center.

In addition to the emergency department, plans call for radiology and laboratory services, plus a mix of primary and specialty care options. Some of those offerings include cardiology, oncology, OB/GYN, orthopedic, cardio-pulmonary rehab, rehab services (physical therapy and occupational therapy), audiology, sleep disorder, and ear, nose and throat. In-patient care will not be available.

“This is an exciting time for all of us at Reid Health, and we hope the residents of Connersville, Fayette County and beyond are just as excited,” says Craig Kinyon, the president and CEO at Reid Health. “We’re going to bring them a new, updated facility as well as modern technologies and equipment. We remain committed to this community, and we can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together.” 

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