The city of Hammond is taking Mishawaka-based Franciscan Health to court in an attempt to block the health system from closing its emergency department to ambulances at Franciscan Health Hammond. Franciscan announced last week that its downtown Hammond hospital would stop accepting ambulances this Friday, a decision city leaders are determined to fight, according to our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana.
On Monday, the city filed a motion for a temporary restraining order. The TRO would restrain Franciscan Alliance Inc. from closing the emergency department of Franciscan Health Hammond.
The motion, filed in Lake Superior Court, says Franciscan’s sudden closure “presents a health care crisis — leaving approximately 80,000 residents without immediate access to emergency medical services.”
Franciscan initially announced plans in May 2021 to significantly downsize and demolish portions of the aging, former St. Margaret’s hospital. But there would still be an eight-bed acute-care hospital, emergency department and primary-care location.
However, the plans changed. The publication reports Franciscan announced on Nov. 3 that inpatient care and ER services at Franciscan Health Hammond would cease. On Dec. 12, Franciscan notified first responders that it will start turning away ambulances at 6 a.m. Dec. 23. Franciscan Health Hammond’s emergency department will continue to take walk-in patients until Dec. 31.
“In the last 15 months, we have seen inpatient volume at Franciscan Health Hammond drop to an average of 2.5 patients per day. Of the 54 patients who present to the emergency room each day, more than 90% would be better served in a lower-cost setting, such as an urgent care or primary care clinic,” Franciscan Health Hammond, Dyer and Munster interim President/CEO Barbara Anderson said in a statement.
While Franciscan Health will maintain medical offices in downtown Hammond, it will no longer offer basic hospital services, such as overnight stays for observation. The city’s request for a TRO says Franciscan announced that the ER would close “suddenly and without any notice,” giving the city no time to plan for the loss.
Local fire departments told The Times that travel times to transport critically injured patients to other hospitals will increase as much as 10 minutes.
The publication says Franciscan’s legal counsel could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
Click here to access the article from The Times of Northwest Indiana.