Judge: NW Indiana hospital must keep ER open for 9 months


HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — A northwestern Indiana hospital that was days away from closing its emergency room has been ordered by a judge to keep those emergency services operational for another nine months.

A Lake County judge granted a preliminary injunction last week that Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. had sought against Franciscan Health Hammond, which announced Nov. 3 that it would close its emergency room at year’s end.

The city’s legal team successfully argued that Franciscan Alliance, a Mishawaka-based hospital chain, broke its May 2021 promise to provide 24/7 medical services while downsizing the hospital.

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Hammond’s attorneys had sought an 18-month reprieve, but McDermott said he was moving ahead with plans to find another emergency medical provider for the space. He said those services are key to Hammond’s downtown renewal plans, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

Robert Anderson, an attorney for Franciscan, said he would have to review the judge’s decision before the hospital decides its next move.

The judge’s order, issued Thursday, states that is unlikely to be extended beyond nine months. It directs Franciscan to “take all steps necessary to ensure that the facility in downtown Hammond remains legally licensed and operational.”

It also bars Franciscan, until further order of the court, from taking steps to reduce the health care currently provided to patients and instructs the hospital chain “to immediately undertake all necessary efforts to obtain an emergency medical provider for the citizens of Hammond.”

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