Mishawaka-based Franciscan Alliance Inc. will be allowed to continue with its plan to close Franciscan Health Hammond. The Indiana Court of Appeals on Friday granted an Emergency Motion for Stay of a preliminary injunction approved last week that would have required the health system to keep the hospital’s emergency department open for another nine months.
Franciscan announced in early November it would cease inpatient services at the 124-year-old hospital. The emergency department was set to shut down on Saturday.
However, Lake Superior Court Judge Bruce Parent last week granted the preliminary injunction requested by the city of Hammond to keep the ER open. The judge’s 11-page order mandated Franciscan to “take all steps necessary to ensure that the facility in downtown Hammond remains legally licensed and operational.”
In the motion to stay, Franciscan argued that compliance with the injunction is “impossible and will put patients at substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury” because its license to operate the hospital was set to expire on Dec. 31.
Click here to read the full Emergency Motion for Stay.
“It will be unlawful – not to mention dangerous to the public – for Franciscan to continue Hospital operations without a license, which is what the Preliminary Injunction requires,” Franciscan said in the motion. “It is physically and legally impossible for Franciscan to comply with the Preliminary Injunction’s mandate to keep its Hospital emergency department open for another nine months – long after its Hospital license has expired, and long after its contracts with the service providers necessary to run the Hospital safely have ended.”
Franciscan said it filed an appeal of the preliminary injunction and earlier this week, filed a Motion for Stay in the trial court, which was denied. That led to the health system filing its motion in the Court of Appeals.
Franciscan believes there is a “strong likelihood” that the preliminary injunction will be overturned on appeal, saying the city “failed to meet the elements of injunctive relief.”
In a written statement, Franciscan Health Hammond Interim President and CEO Barbara Anderson said the health system is grateful for the order from the Court of Appeals and will proceed with ceasing operations and closing the ER.
“As most ambulances have already stopped bringing patients to Franciscan Health Hammond, we do not expect that closing the Emergency Department will cause disruption in emergency medical care for residents. As we pointed out to the Court of Appeals, many Hammond neighborhoods are closer to other hospitals within the region than they were to Franciscan Health Hammond,” said Anderson. “We believe this decision prioritizes patient safety, which has been our primary concern throughout the legal proceedings.”
The city of Hammond did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Inside INdiana Business.