Chesterton Tribune

South Bend Memorial sells six acres on 49 to Community HC

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Memorial Health Systems of South Bend—which in October 2007 acquired 53.8 acres along Ind. 49 in the City of Valparaiso, with the idea of building a hospital campus there—has sold six of those acres to Community Healthcare System, which operates three hospitals in Northwest Indiana, including St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart.

Memorial Health spokesperson Diane Stover confirmed the sale on Monday but was unable to say what plans Community Healthcare might have for the acreage.

And a Community Healthcare spokesperson contacted by the Chesterton Tribune had “no information on that at this time.”

Memorial Health had originally expected to break ground on a 100-bed acute-care hospital on the site—located at Ind. 49 and C.R. 500N in Washington Township—in 2010. Its plans included an emergency room, an urgent care center, and outpatient services, with the possibility of later expanding to 250 beds.

But Stover told the Tribune that those plans are currently on hold until the economy improves. “That project’s still frozen,” she said. “We decided to freeze that project, to wait for a more friendly borrowing market.”

Memorial Health attempted unsuccessfully to purchase Porter hospital in 2006, when the Board of Trustees publicly expressed its interest in a sale or merger. But a task force subsequently opted to sell Porter hospital to Triad Inc., which in turn was acquired by Community Health Systems, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital company.

In addition to St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart, Community Healthcare also operates Community Hospital in Munster and St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago.

Posted 4/13/2011