MICHIGAN CITY – When the old St. Anthony Hospital closed its doors on the north side earlier this year, Franciscan Health officials said they had plans to continue providing health care services to area residents.

That "vision" will become reality on July 8, when a new Franciscan ExpressCare clinic opens in what was once the emergency room area of the hospital.

"We wanted to do something for the community up there after having been there for so long," said Tim Ross, administrative director of retail services north at Franciscan Alliance

That was always the goal of Franciscan Health Michigan City president/CEO Dean Mazzoni.

"When we closed, part of Dean's vision was to offer something back to the community," Ross said. "He wanted to at least provide some type of urgent care there, to provide a necessity to that community."

That will include the ExpressCare urgent care facility and a Healthy Access company clinic.

The urgent care facility, which will open in July, will be open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and could expand its hours in the future, Ross said. Franciscan's other ExpressCare clinic in Michigan City, on U.S. 421 just south of U.S. 20, is open seven days a week.

The new facility will be staffed by a nurse practitioner, with physicians possibly filling in when needed, along with two clinical nurses and an intake person, he said.

"We will add staff as it grows," Ross said, "but the first step, if warranted, would be to expand hours and add Saturday hours."

Staff will provide urgent care services as needed, and if more acute care is needed, patients could be taken to the new hospital on the south side.

ExpressCare will be located in the old emergency area of St. Anthony, with patients using the same entrance.

"I imagine we will be using about 3,000-4,000 square feet. The old ER was a very large space, and we will be using approximately one-third of it from the diagrams," Ross said.

"There won't be any new construction, basically just a facelift with cleaning, painting and updating."

New signage will be placed outside the old ER entrance, and on the marquis signs on roads along the campus, he said, probably to go up a few days before the opening.

The facility will also be a Healthy Access company clinic, a place where, by prior arrangement with local companies, their employees can use the facility for wellness and primary care.

Employers pay a monthly fee for employees to use the facility, Ross said.

ExpressCare will be the second tenant of the old St. Anthony campus.

The La Porte County WIC (supplemental nutrition for women, infants and children) program is also now housed in part of the former hospital on Homer Street, providing services for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, non-breastfeeding postpartum women and children up to age 5 considered "at nutrition risk."

Ross said there have been a "lot of different discussions" on the future of the site, but he was unaware of any other definite plans.

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