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St. Vincent health system will open 8 microhospitals to answer demand for acute care in central Indiana

Nonprofit system will also open new ambulatory care centers in Brownsburg, Crawfordsville and Plainfield, increasing access to non-emergency care.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Indiana-based St. Vincent health system will expand access to both emergency and primary care with plans to build eight new emergency microhospitals and three ambulatory care centers, the system announced Monday.

The first of the facilities opens Summer 2017.

Set to be located throughout central Indiana, each facility will house emergency beds, as well as inpatient beds when patients require additional testing and overnight stays. Patients requiring more advanced care can also be transferred to other facilities.

[Also: DignityHealth Nevada to build 4 hospitals for underserved Las Vegas communities]

Larger health systems nationwide are also expanding their footprints through these small but fully equipped facilities where wait times are likely shorter than in major hospital emergency departments. The microhospitals are usually in communities that are further away from major medical facilities, helping to bridge a gap in care, and they are an attractive model to large health systems because they do not carry the same costs of a full-scale hospital.

St. Vincent, a 135 year-old nonprofit health system whose parent company is Ascension, will also open new ambulatory care centers in Brownsburg, Crawfordsville and Plainfield, increasing access to non-emergency care including primary care, urgent care, imaging, physical therapy services and access to key specialties – including Level I Trauma at St. Vincent Indianapolis, cardiovascular care through the St. Vincent Heart Center, women's services, and advanced pediatric care through Peyton Manning Children's Hospital.  St. Vincent's includes 20 health ministries that serve counties in Central and Southern Indiana.

The Plainfield and Crawfordsville facilities are expected to open in early 2017, and the Brownsburg facility is slated to open the summer of 2017.

[Also: Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care venture opens first clinic, with a dozen more planned]

The system's expansion has been ongoing, including an announcement earlier this year of a partnership with The Little Clinic, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Kroger Co., on a clinical collaboration to expand access to care through in-store clinics.  The partnership aims to provide patients with care by connecting 10 in-store clinics with the more than 16,000 healthcare professionals of St. Vincent.

According to a Kaiser Health News report, microhospitals are being developed primarily in a few states: Texas, Colorado, Nevada and Arizona. Dignity Health, a health care system with facilities in Nevada, Arizona and California, has a microhospital in the Phoenix area and has plans to open another one. It also announced plans to open four microhospitals in the Las Vegas area in March.

Nevada is one of the worst-ranked states in the nation when it comes to access to care and ratio of physicians to residents.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn

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