ROANOKE, Ind. (WPTA21) - Indiana University Health spent $5.3 million to purchase a large chunk of land in the southwest part of Allen County, increasing speculation that a new hospital could be announced soon.
An IU Health official confirmed with ABC21 the company closed on the 137-acre property for a sale price of $5,343,000 -- a figure confirmed by recent filings with the county.
The plot of land purchased is divided into two parcels running along Airport Expressway close to I-69.
Brian Bauer, the president of IU Health in Fort Wayne says the health care provider since August 2018 has ambitiously been recruiting primary care physicans, aligning with surgical specialists, and pointing towards building a hospital.
He says he hopes in early 2020 to have clarity on the timing of that final piece.
Right now, patients in Allen County seeking care in an emergency room, looking to undergo surgery, or even deliver a baby have five hospitals to choose from.
Those facilities are operated either by Parkview Health or Lutheran Health Network.
Fort Wayne city council president and Parkview cancer physician Dr. John Crawford says two recent studies, including one by The Rand Corporation, found that consumers in Fort Wayne pay more than twice the cost for a typical medical treatment as they do in places with the most competition.
He thinks an IU Health Hospital could make a dent in that problem.
"Parkview Hospital was identified as a very high cost hospital, excellent care. And Lutheran is also a very good hospital, excellent care, but we need to do something to get prices down to a more reasonable level," Dr. Crawford said.
The development comes after IU Health broke ground on a new multi-specialty surgery center in Allen County this week.
The Allen County Assessor's Office lists the buyer as Ernst Associates LLC in the sales disclosure form.
ABC21 has learned that Ernst Associates, LLC, was created on Oct. 31, 2019, and lists its principal office location as 600 E. 96th Street in Indianapolis.
That's the same address as one of the largest law firms in the state, Faegre Baker Daniels.
The name "Ernst" appears to be a nod to Ernst Road, in the immediate vicinity of the property purchases.
IU Health has opened facilities across Allen County over the past two years -- including general medical offices and urgent care.
The first extension into the local market came in early 2018, when IU Health established a Riley Children’s Health specialty pediatric clinic.
IU Health is the largest healthcare system in Indiana, employing around 30,000 people.