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Blackford County officials looking for answers after ER closes

IU Health closes ER in Blackford County

HARTFORD CITY, Ind. (WISH) — On Oct. 1, IU Health closed the emergency room at Blackford Hospital in Hartford City, a community 62 miles north of Indianapolis.

Hartford City Mayor Dan Eckstein said. “You hate to say this, but we will probably lose people because of this decision. That’s tough for us to swallow.”

Eckstein said IU Health officials called him in June to tell him the hospital would be closing and nothing could be done to change their minds.

“We battled this and had meetings, but basically the decision was made,” said Eckstein.

Blackford County joined 14 other rural counties in Indiana that do not have an emergency room in their hospital.

IU Health left two of its lifeline ambulances that can bring patients to the closet emergency room at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie. That’s about a 30-45 minute drive depending on what part of Blackford County you are in.

County Commissioner Laura Coons says if both ambulances are on a run at the same time, it could leave the county uncovered.

“Luckily, we have other counties around here that if we call them, they will come and help,” said Coons. We have Wells County next to us. Sometimes, we have to use Grant County.”

A task force consisting of first responders and community leaders was formed to address the issues.

IU Blackford still offers a primary clinic, prenatal and post partum care, mammographys, physical therapy, CT scans, ultrasounds, lab services and a pharmacy

According to a statement from IU Health, a task force consisting of first responders and community leaders was formed to address the issues.

Cherrie Brown, a task force member, said the first thing she did was make sure all city employees were CPR trained.

“There’s talk of potentially doing some EMR training for residents, so that neighbors can help neighbors if they find themselves in a challenging situation,” said Brown.

Marion Health is building a hospital with a trauma center in Gas City, Indiana, about 15 minutes away from the western portion of Blackford County. It’s not clear when the hospital will open.