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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

St. Vincent Dunn Hospital and Ascension Practices to Close December 16th

BEDFORD - SEPTEMBER 17, 2022 - St. Vincent Dunn Hospital and Ascension Practices are set to close December 16th. Employees learned of the closure Friday afternoon, some by email to inform them of the closure.

The first indicator of changes was coming was during a recent, Lawrence County Commissioners meeting that the lease agreements for some of the physicians' offices were changing.

In the announcement by Ascension, "After a thorough assessment of the hospital's current operating environment and healthcare landscape in Bedford, Ascension St. Vincent Dunn and all Lawrence County Ascension Medical Group (AMG) practices will be closing December 16, 2022.

The news was delivered to hospital leadership, providers and associates as well as their external partners.

Ascension Medical Group looked at several options and tried to find a buyer for the hospital however at this time there was none.

There are 91 employees with revenue of the hospital at approximately $23.5 Million.

In June of this year, Ascension St. Vincent announced to close 11 immediate care facilities in the Indianapolis area. At the time the Ascension has more than 20 immediate care facilities across the State of Indiana. Those facilities were walk-in clinics to treat non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses.

Lawrence County has been served by two hospitals since the 1970s and over the years have faced many challenges.

The two hospitals talked about merging in 1999 but failed, which caused hospital board members to resign at the time.

At that time Bedford Medical Center had a 60-bed facility, and Lawrence County owned (at the time) Dunn Hospital 104 bed facility. The talks lasted more than 18 months before the Lawrence County Council derailed the deal in a 5-2 vote.

The deal had the go-ahead of both hospital boards, Lawrence County Commissioners, and Clarian Health Partners which owned Bedford Regional Medical Center at the time.

At the time Dunn had assets totaling $36 Million in 1997 compared to the $13.6 Million. The county council could not see making it into one hospital.

Some of the council members said they was in favor of one hospital system in the county but did not believe this was the right deal. That merger would have created the Lawrence County Healthcare System a non-profit sponsored by Lawrence County and Clarian Health.

Dave Smith and four other Dunn Memorial Hospital board members resigned from the 11 member Dunn Memorial Hospital board.

Robert Adamson, Lawrence County Council member and Dunn Hospital board member voted in favor of the merger. Competition for healthcare was steep even during that period.

Adamson predicated that it will be difficult for Dunn to survive because of Clarian Health Care. In 1997, Adamson predicated that Dunn Memorial will eventually fail. In 1998, Dunn Hospital was expected to lose about $1.2 Million.

In 2009, Dunn Memorial laid off staff and Lawrence County issued a $8 Million dollar bond to restructure its debt.

Lawrence County's second hospital, back in July 2020 IU Health Bedford celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Bedford Hospital, which started back in 1970.

IU Health Bedford

The hospital originally started as the Edgewood Clinic, with other names being the E.B. Crowe Medical Center, Bedford Medical Center, Bedford Regional Medical Center, Clarian Health, and IU Health.

The IU Healthcare system was launched in 1997 about the time Lawrence County was discussing mergers. Then, Indiana University president Myle Brand announced the formation of Clarian Health, which merged with Indianapolis Methodist Hospital, University Hospital, and Riley Hospital into one organization. The name was changed to IU Health in 2011 to bring awareness to Indiana.

Since the change of the name the IU Health Care system has expanded to include other community hospitals across the state including Bedford Regional Medical Center. The Bloomington Hospital became part of the group in 2010.

IU Health purchased many physician practices across the State of Indiana and now many hospitals have become training centers. IU Health now has grown into a huge health care conglomerate in Indiana. In 2020 there were 16 hospitals in the IU Health network.

The departure of St. Vincent Hospital will also leave Lawrence County without a OB/Delivery facility in Lawrence County.

Lawrence County residents are expressing concerns over ambulance coverage for Lawrence County

There are many other questions and concerns by the Lawrence County Community that will have to be addressed quickly including the Emergency Medical System which already has Lawrence County residents concerned with over 40-minute response times from other counties.

Both hospitals, contracted ambulance service out for their hospitals but Lawrence County has not supported a local ambulance service since the 1970s. Lawrence County Commissioner Rodney Fish has served previously on the Dunn Memorial Hospital Board and more recently since 2018.

Lawrence County Zephyr will monitor developments in this story.

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