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Marion County Voters Will Determine the Future of Wishard Memorial Hospital Today

Marion County voters will head to the polls today to determine the future of Wishard Memorial Hospital, located in downtown Indianapolis. Supporters and employees of this Indianapolis health care facility are hoping Hoosiers will “vote yes” and approve the construction of a new $754 million facility. If approved, the new 1.2 million-square-foot Indy hospital will be built on the west side of the IUPUI campus, near Indiana University Hospital.

If the referendum is denied, Wishard Memorial Hospital must wait until 2010 for another shot at voter approval. According to hospital officials, another year of waiting could force the hospital to close its doors. Under current conditions the hospital could be facing closure as early as next year. Officials say that the current building is no longer efficient and safe for today’s technological advances.

Hospital spokespeople assured Hoosiers there will be no tax increase for the new facility. Instead, the new plan will be backed by Indiana taxpayer bonds. This means that taxpayers will be guaranteeing bonds that Wishard wishes to sell, gaining the hospital better interest rates for the rebuilding project.

The risk of losing one of Indiana’s largest safety-net hospitals has motivated Hoosiers to come together. Citizens for Wishard is a group of health care providers, Indianapolis educators, community leaders, patients, Indianapolis business leaders and many other Wishard Memorial Hospital supporters.

Wishard currently operates the busiest emergency room in Indiana, the largest burn center in the state and remains a leader in neo- natal care, educational research and community care. Wishard is one of the first hospitals established in the Circle City, dating back to 1855. Some of the oldest parts of the deteriorating hospital campus are more than 95 years old. Technical problems, maintenance issues and constant band-aid-like upgrades sometimes interfere with patient care. In October, for example, several main operating rooms were forced to shut down due to a steam pipe burst. The complications caused the cancellation of 15 surgeries.

Wishard Memorial Hospital remains one of only two level I trauma centers in the state. If Wishard were to close, the nearby Methodist Hospital would be the only place for Hoosiers to seek care in a Level I trauma emergency.

For more than 150 years, Wishard Memorial Hospital has been serving the greater Indianapolis area, improving the health of thousands. Their mission is “to advocate, care, teach and serve, with special emphasis on the vulnerable populations of Marion County, Indiana.” The time has come for Marion County residents to decide whether Wishard should continue it’s service as a community hospital, or close its doors.

Be on the lookout this evening for more information regarding the future of Wishard Memorial Hospital.