FORT WAYNE – Lutheran Health Network officials could see the writing on the prescription pad: More people living and working downtown add up to more potential patients.
After two years of behind-the-scenes talks, those officials on Wednesday announced plans to open a RediMed urgent care clinic on the first floor of the Anthony Wayne Building in the fall.
The 3,400-square-foot location is part of a $4 million investment parent company Lutheran Health Network is making in RediMed. The project includes opening a RediMed in New Haven, moving a Business Health Services clinic in Bluffton and renovating all existing RediMed locations. About 20 jobs will be created, including 10 downtown.
The downtown clinic at 303 E. Berry St. will be across Berry from Citizens Square, where 500 city and county employees work, across Clinton Street from the Allen County Courthouse and downstairs from 38 new condominiums.
Commercial tenants in the Anthony Wayne Building include Anytime Fitness, 111 Design, Verizon Wireless and the law firm Snow & Sauerteig. An unnamed bank is expected to announce a new lease for six-floor offices and a first-floor branch in the next couple of weeks.
Brian Bauer, Lutheran’s CEO, said it can be a struggle for people working downtown to get to their family doctor’s office during the workday. The clinic, which will be open seven days a week, will address that need, he said.
Mayor Tom Henry praised the project.
Lutheran’s investment in downtown unquestionably adds to the redevelopment of downtown and to the overall quality of life in Fort Wayne, he said.
Dr. Vikash Negandhi, RediMed’s chief operating officer, said recent upgrades have made all of the clinics more attractive to patients.
RediMed treats more than 200,000 patients every year.
Improvements include consistent staffing, which allows patients to request the health care provider they saw previously; electronic medical records, which allow a patient’s Lutheran-affiliated primary care physician to review a clinic visit; and a new commitment to treating and releasing patients within 60 minutes of arrival, depending on the severity of the illness or injury.
Lutheran also owns and operates St. Joseph Hospital, located a few blocks away on Broadway.
Although Negandhi expects the downtown RediMed will attract some patients who otherwise would have gone to St. Joseph’s emergency room for treatment, officials aren’t worried about potential redistribution.
Bauer wants patients to go to the most appropriate setting, which keeps costs down for patients and providers. Clinics have examining rooms, labs, imaging machines, procedure rooms and crash carts on-site.
Lutheran is also adding a clinic at Lutheran Health Plaza in New Haven and an occupational medicine location in Bluffton.
RediMed began accepting Medicaid for treatment in March at all locations; the clinic had already been accepting patients covered by the benefit plan in Huntington.
Anyone without insurance can be seen at RediMed for $75 a visit, plus the cost of necessary tests and prescriptions.
Despite Lutheran’s dominance in the downtown area, Parkview Health officials reject any notion that its rival is the only network providing health care to people in the heart of Fort Wayne.
Ben Miles, chief operating officer of Parkview Hospital and affiliates, said Parkview remains committed to its Randallia campus, which is near downtown in a densely populated residential area.
The local health care system has invested $3 million to $4 million in Parkview Randallia in the past year alone, Miles said, and officials expect to announce a multiyear plan for the campus within the next couple of months.