BEDFORD - FEBRUARY 28, 2023 - Lawrence County Commissioners approved a five-year lease agreement with Indiana Health Center to which their offices will open around April.
Chief Executive Officer Ann Lundy RN, BSN, MBA, Indiana Health Centers Inc.
With the departure of Accession Health Care and St. Vincent Dunn Hospital in December woman's health care options for woman have become a major concern.
The federally qualified health center offer services throughout the State of Indiana and assuming responsibility for the Lawrence County WIC programs for women, infant and children.
Indiana Health Center is bringing integrated primary health care medical and behavioral health services to the residents of Lawrence County.
The offices located at 2409 and 2415 Mitchell Road in Bedford formerly known as the Dunn Plaza.
File photo part of the former Dunn Plaza the Lawrence County Heatlh Department will remain at the location
The lease agreement is for 9,695 square feet for one area and with a total of 36,760 feet for the remaining area for general medical offices, and patient care facilities. The lease to be paid on a monthly basis at $9,696 a month.
" We offer all primary health care and OB services, prenatal care, and offer/ administer for women, infant and children and help them navigate especially for pregnant mothers to a system to where they will be able to do a delivery," said CEO Ann Lundy, Indiana Health Centers Inc.
Indiana Health Centers do not operate any acute facilities and is not a hospital-based service. The only services offered is primary and outpatient services. But, IHC works with the hospitals throughout southern Indiana.
We do not turn anyone away, without the ability to pay, serving Medicare, and Medicaid patients, commercial insurance, and for those do not have insurance we offer a sliding fee scale.
" We are really honored to offer these services and plan to have the facilities open in April," said Lundy.
With the departure of Ascension, and Indiana Health Centers will help with some of the health care desserts for women in Lawrence County.
Lawrence County Zephyr interviewed Dr. Deborah Craton following St. Vincents Dunn Hospital announcement of their departure. Indiana University Health discontinued OB/Delivery services at their hospital several years ago.
At the present time, there is no plans for IU Health Bedford to reopen delivery/OB services in the foreseeable future.
For women who are pregnant things can get very scary soon for those women residing in Lawrence County as the only delivery room available is set to close.
Lawrence County women will have to drive more than 22 miles to the north to Bloomington, Orange County hospital to the south, Schneck Hospital to the east to find a delivery room.
Figure is 2018 Indiana Department of Health OB deserts in Indiana
For the women who have a high-risk pregnancy can be very scary in getting to a hospital. In rural Indiana more than a third of Indiana Counties now lack delivery wards.
In 2020, 33 out of Indiana's 92 counties did not have no hospital or the hospital did not have an OB/Gyn. In 2020, 89 out of 160 Hospitals did not have a maternity ward. In 2022, that number is now only 84 birthing hospitals.
" At St Vincent Dunn Hospital normally delivered approximately 250 babies a year, not only from Lawrence County but from Greene, Martin, and Orange Counties," said Dr Craton, in the previous interview with the Lawrence County Zephyr.
In 2018, IU Health Orange County planned to stop delivering babies at the rural hospital but reversed its decision following an outcry of the community.
It should be noted that recently the U.S. News and World Report did list IU Health Bloomington and IU Health Paoli as "Best Hospitals for Maternity" with more than 2,700 that offer maternity services and this report identified 237 that made the distinction. The hospitals that performed well had fewer early deliveries, and fewer C - sections across the nation.
LACK OF HEALTHCARE PUTS LIVES AT RISK
Lack of healthcare can be dangerous for both the mother and infant.
Three years ago, Indiana's maternal mortality rate dropped to the 3rd worst in the nation, in 2019, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb put Dr. Kristiana Box, Indiana Department of Health Commissioner in charge of fixing the statewide issue.
Dr. Kristiana Box has worked as an OB/GYN for more than 30 years. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that the less than 10 percent of OB/GYNS work in rural communities.
" Here in Lawrence County, we have previously received awards for keeping our mortality rates low," said Dr. Craton.
Lawrence County Indiana statistics from 2011 -2015
Maternal mortality rate refers to deaths due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth. The United States maternity mortality rate refers to or aggravated by pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 hours of pregnancy.
The rate has not decreased in 2022, in Indiana the mortality rate is 43.6 per 100,000 making Indiana the third highest. The United State remains the highest for Maternity Mortality compared to 10 other developed countries.
" I do not expect St. Vincent to reverse its decision, but we do need to find a way to provide a clinic, or delivery area in Lawrence County," said Dr. Craton.
" What is equally concerning is the lack of ambulance service in the county to respond to a complicated birth, or at-risk birth then having to travel several minutes to a Delivery Department of the hospital,"
Dr. Craton stated with over 7,000 patients seen at St. Vincent Hospital the capacity at IU Health Bedford will be challenge in the next couple of months.
Lawrence County Zephyr will continue to monitor the developments in this developing story.