News Center

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Federal judge orders halt on health care provision infringing on religious rights

Franciscan Alliance, other groups’ legal challenge supported by court ruling

MISHAWAKA, Ind. In 2012, the U.S. government began implementing its requirement that certain employers, who provide a health plan to their employees include, free-of-charge, certain women’s reproductive preventative services including abortifacients, contraceptives and contraceptive counseling.

As a not-for-profit dedicated to religious beliefs that do not permit such practices, Franciscan Alliance was exempted under a “Safe Harbor” from providing such services until Jan. 1, 2014. Because of this deadline, Franciscan Alliance joined with other similarly situated corporations to seek injunctive relief in the federal court system to preserve its protections under the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

On Friday, Dec. 27, the Hon. Jon Deguilio, U.S. district judge for the Northern District Court of Indiana , issued an order granting a motion for preliminary injunction and enjoining the defendants, the secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Treasury and their agents and officers and representatives from applying or enforcing against the plaintiffs: Franciscan Alliance, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Inc., Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Inc., Saint Anne Home and Retirement Community of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Inc., Specialty Physicians of Illinois, LLC, the University of Saint Francis, and Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., or their employee insurance plans.

This also included their plan brokers, plan insurers, or third party administrators, the requirements set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 300gg-13(a)(4) and 45 C.F.R. § 147.130(a)(1)(iv), corresponding guidelines to provide, pay for, or otherwise facilitate access to the FDA approved contraceptive methods, abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization procedures, and related patient education and counseling.

The court recognized the likelihood of plaintiffs to prevail in a permanent injunction action based upon the preservation of their deeply held religious beliefs under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It further noted that the federal regulations exempted churches from the mandated requirements but the plaintiffs as not-for- profit organizations, providing charitable services were  only afforded an accommodation. This would have required them to “facilitate and serve as the conduit through which objectionable contraceptive products and services are ultimately provided to their employees, in violation of their unquestionably sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Finally, the judge’s ruling noted that by granting exemption to churches but requiring the Catholic not-for-profitable organizations to act as facilitator and conduit for the provision of objectionable services was, in fact, having the effect of dividing the Catholic Church into two separate entities,

despite their overlapping membership and leadership and separating those inside the church’s
walls from those engaging in the fulfillment of the religious and charitable missions of the Diocese of the Catholic Church.

"We simply asked that the government not impose its values and policies on plaintiffs, in direct violation of our religious beliefs," said Kevin Leahy, Franciscan Alliance president and chief executive officer. “We deeply appreciate the skillful and thoughtful counsel of Jones Day, which coordinated our collective legal challenge.

“Franciscan Alliance is proud of its heritage as a Not-For-Profit Catholic Health Care Corporation dedicated to is Mission of Continuing Christ’s Ministry in Our Franciscan Tradition,” said Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairperson of Franciscan Alliance’s Board of Trustees  “We have adhered to the tenets of the Catholic faith and continue to look to our sponsor, the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, for guidance in continuing its 138-year history of providing health care to those we are privileged to serve in the United States.”

About Franciscan Alliance
The Franciscan Alliance healthcare ministry began in Lafayette, Ind., in 1875. Today, Franciscan Alliance is one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the Midwest with 13 hospital campuses, 20,000 employees and a number of nationally recognized Centers of Health Care Excellence. Hospitals include: Franciscan St. Anthony Health- Crown Point; Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City.; Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health- Crawfordsville; Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health- Lafayette East; Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health-Lafayette Central; Franciscan St. Francis Health-Carmel; Franciscan St. Francis Health- Indianapolis; Franciscan St.

Francis Health-Mooresville; Franciscan St. James Health-Chicago Heights, Ill.; Franciscan St. James Health- Olympia Fields, Ill.; Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Hammond; Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Dyer; and Franciscan Healthcare-Munster.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

New spiritual care director selected by Franciscan St. Francis Health

INDIANAPOLIS – Marilyn Williams, BCC, has been appointed director of Spiritual Care at Franciscan St. Francis Health.

Williams joined St. Francis Health this month from St. Mary’s Health in Evansville, where she served as director of pastoral care for three years. She previously served as a chaplain for a Catholic hospital in Tennessee and completed her Clinical Professional Education (chaplaincy training) in Omaha, Neb. 

Prior to becoming a chaplain she worked in cancer research and healthcare management.  In one of her roles she was involved in the development of a curriculum in integrative and holistic medicine for physicians. 

Williams said her calling to pastoral care was a natural extension of her spiritual journey.

“One thing I love is hearing the stories people have,” Williams said. “It’s such a privilege as chaplain to have the opportunity to not only hear the stories but also be with people in a special way in their most vulnerable times of life – illness, dying, birth – just to be a service and show the love and compassion of Christ in those times.”

Williams has a master’s in theological studies from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., a master of science in hospital and health services administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and is board certified by The National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

She is an oblate for Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman, Ala..  Oblates are Christian individuals who have associated themselves with a Benedictine community in order to enrich their Christian way of life. Oblates seek God and shape their lives by following, as permitted by their station or lifestyle within the world, the Rule of St. Benedict for the monastic way of life based on the Christian scriptures.

“We are very happy to have Marilyn Williams join our St. Francis family,” said Sister Marlene Shapley, vice president of Mission Services. “She comes with many years of Spiritual Care experience and management expertise. We welcome Marilyn to lead us into the future of what is most important—Mission and our Spiritual direction.”

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Send in the Clown

Liam is more focused on the gift bags outside his
room than he is on the arrival of his visitor
Ronald McDonald paid a visit to the youngsters in our pediatrics unit Dec. 17. McDonald’s Restaurants of Central Indiana have been spreading cheer this holiday season through the Joy of Giving.

Each child received special gifts as the playful Ronald interacted with them, their parents and hospital staff. Here are some images from the visit.

Five-year-old Avah was just being admitted to the unit and laughs as Ronald
demonstrates his squeaky outfit. For the record, she doesn't have a boyfriend
 and is not in high school yet, she revealed under intense questioning from her visitor

Ronald, Avah and her mother Sherri, are joined by local McDonald’s
Owner/Operator Pete Wojtowicz, who provided and helped deliver gifts to the youngsters.

Lennon checks out the race track while Ronald ponders the cars. 

THUMBS UP: Ronald strikes a pose with Sister Martha Ann, Lori Warner
(director of Women and Children's Services), Jennifer Naessens
(pediatrics manager) and Dena Powell (marketing and community relations coordinator).

Friday, December 13, 2013

New chief operating officer takes reins of Franciscan VNS

INDIANAPOLIS – Beth A. Keultjes has been named vice president and chief operating officer of Home Health and Hospice for Franciscan VNS

Keultjes brings with her many years of experience in the health care field as well as an earnest interest in developing cost-effective home health care programs that are in line with the new Accountable Care Organization efficiencies.

She replaces John Pipas, who will retire as president of Franciscan VNS, which partnered with Franciscan St. Francis Health in 2011.

For the past three years, Keultjes has worked at Cassopolis Family Clinic, where she has overseen the development of a new facility, led a major capital campaign, and managed the organization’s efforts to become a patient centered medical home.  Keultjes has spent more than 20 years leading home health and hospice organizations. 

Notably, when Keultjes worked for Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in South Bend, the organization acquired a Visiting Nurse Association and was responsible for combining the two programs into a very successful integrated home care operation. 

Keultjes received her undergraduate degree in business administration from Indiana University and her master’s degree in administration from the University of Notre Dame.

She is a member of the American College of Health Care Executives and past president of the Northern Indiana Alzheimer’s Association.

Visiting Nurse Service at St. Francis was incorporated in 1913 and is a non-profit United Way agency.  VNS at St. Francis is committed to providing quality, cost-effective, healthcare and family programs in the community. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New manager for Central Scheduling selected

INDIANAPOLIS – Jennifer Davenport has been appointed manager for Central Scheduling at Franciscan St. Francis Health.

She most previously served as manager of the Physician Office Navigator program, where she supervised the operations of 12 Navigator sites within Franciscan Physician Network.

Davenport, an Indianapolis resident, studied journalism at Ball State University and earned her certification in phlebotomy at Med Tech College in Greenwood. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Coping with holiday stress hinges on personal, realistic approach

INDIANAPOLIS – As the holiday tune resonates with the message that it’s the most wonderful time of the year, for many it’s a time of stress, grief over the loss of a loved one, or grappling with the rough economic times.

“There are many healthy ways to cope with issues many of us face during the holidays,” said Kerry Minnis, licensed clinical social worker at Franciscan St. Francis Health, offering several tips:

Stress Overload
·         Simplify. Cut your “to-do” list. Delegate and get help.
·         Make choices that are good for you and your family.
·         Remember, time management is self-management. Teaching others to respect your time and having realistic goals are helpful.

·         Develop new traditions. Reaffirm your spirituality. Focus on family.
·         Examine your holiday rituals and traditions. Keep those that are enjoyable and meaningful. Create new rituals that fit your current lifestyle.
·         Reach out to others and share in the true meaning of the holiday.

Hard Time Economy
·         Avoid gift-giving frenzies. Use alternative gifts if money is a problem. Those may include something you can make or a card with the offer to provide a task or chore.
·         Focusing on the original meaning of the holiday can help overcome guilt associated with the inability to buy the gifts we would like.

Francis St. Francis Outpatient Behavioral Health Services offers a variety of services and programs throughout the year. Click here to learn more. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Franciscan St. Francis to open Immediate Care at Castle Key Plaza

INDIANAPOLIS – Residents on Indianapolis’ far north side will continue to have a solid health care option with the Nov. 22 opening of Franciscan Immediate Care-Castle Key Plaza.

Located at 4257 E. 82nd St., the opening of this new facility is a relocation of services previously offered at Franciscan Immediate Care-Nora on E. 86th St., which closes Nov. 21.

Castle Key Plaza offers services 365 days a year from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. 

Franciscan Immediate Care-Castle Key Plaza provides urgent care treatment by physicians – without an appointment – for illnesses and injuries, including diagnostic imaging and lab services. This 5,500 square foot facility features seven exam rooms and two treatment rooms, an X-ray room, and is staffed with physicians, medical assistants, X-ray technicians and management staff.

“Immediate Care offers accessible, economical medical care to patients, particularly for those with minor injuries and illnesses who don’t require a visit to a hospital emergency room,” said Robert J. Brody, president and chief executive officer for Franciscan St. Francis Health, which acquired Immediate Care operations in the Indianapolis area in late 2010.

In addition to its new location, Immediate Care operates facilities at 1001 N. Madison Ave. (Greenwood), 650 N. Girls School Road (Chapel Hill) and 5210 E. Thompson Road (Beech Grove) and 14641 U.S. 31 North (Carmel).

Launched in 1981 by the Bloomington, Ind.-based Unity Physician Group, Franciscan Immediate Care centers collectively see about 100,000 patients each year. Each facility is always staffed by at least one physician and a highly trained staff committed to service excellence.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mooresville surgeons offer free joint replacements to patients in need

MOORESVILLE, Ind. —Three patients will receive free total joint replacement surgery beginning Dec. 3 during an Operation Walk USA-sponsored program at the Center for Hip and Knee Surgery, located on the campus of Franciscan St. Francis Health-Mooresville.


These patients — from Mooresville, Martinsville and Solsberry, Ind. — meet Franciscan St. Francis Health’s criteria for financial assistance and joint replacement surgery.

Center surgeons are donating the surgery, and the Mooresville hospital and staff are contributing the rest of the services, and implant manufacturer Biomet of Warsaw, Ind., is donating the implants.

Michael Berend, M.D., will be doing two knee replacements for the Mooresville patient. The first surgery will occur on Dec. 6. Philip Faris, M.D., will perform a single hip replacement on Dec. 3 for the Martinsville patient. Robert Malinzak, M.D., will perform a single hip replacement for the Solsberry patient on Dec. 5.

The Center has consistently been ranked among the top joint replacement facilities in the country using Medicare data and quality measures such as complication and infection rates. For five years straight, Mooresville hospital has been honored with Healthgrades Outstanding Patient Experience Award and ranked among the top 5 percent in the Nation for Outstanding Patient Experience.

Operation Walk USA, an independent medical charitable organization, provides all aspects of knee and hip replacement treatment — surgery, hospitalization and pre- and post-operative care — at no cost to patients who may not qualify for government assistance, have insurance or afford surgery on their own.

While more than 1 million hip and knee replacements are performed in the U.S. each year, countless men and women continue to live with severe arthritic pain and immobility because they cannot afford joint replacement surgery.

Operation Walk USA is an offshoot of Operation Walk, which provides free surgical treatment for patients in developing countries.

Established in 2000 by Merrill Ritter, MD, who also founded the Center for Hip & Knee Surgery, Operation Walk Mooresville also educates in-country orthopedic surgeons, nurses, physical therapists and other health care professionals on the most advanced treatments and surgical techniques for diseases of the hip and knee joints.

Through donations of time, money and supplies, Operation Walk Mooresville has been able to touch the lives of countless citizens in several countries, including Cuba, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Most recently, Operation Walk Mooresville traveled to Managua, Nicaragua, from Feb. 24 to March 2. 

The group performed 99 surgeries for 69 patients, including 81 joint replacements and 18 foot and ankle surgeries.

A team of 74 volunteers, 12 from Franciscan St. Francis Health–Mooresville, included surgeons, nurses, physical therapists and many others. The team brought the necessary equipment and donated supplies along with the expertise of the Operation Walk Mooresville group. 

Each trip costs approximately $165,000 for transportation, cargo, shipping, medical supplies, medications, room and board.

“Each year these costs increase,” said Amy Robertson, R.N., team coordinator for Operation Walk in Mooresville. “Without the help from Franciscan St. Francis Health–Mooresville and the Kendrick Foundation, these trips would not be possible.”

For more information about Operation Walk or to contribute the effort, visit

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Statement regarding hospital visitation policy

Franciscan St. Francis Health has as part of its mission to provide the compassionate care and respect of our patients, their families and visitors. As such, our visitation policy applies equally to all people regardless of their orientation.   

It is unfortunate that the current situation has been reported inaccurately in the news media and throughout social media.  Contrary to the reports and social media comments, the significant other of the patient has been granted visitation with the patient regularly since her admission to Franciscan St. Francis.  In addition, the significant other has been provided updates regarding the health status of the patient.  We will continue to provide such access and updates as is our policy. 

Our hospital has worked diligently and sensitively to meet the needs of both the family and the significant other, while at the same time caring for the best interest of the patient.   All are an integral part of the healing process for the patient and Franciscan St. Francis will continue to work with both parties to ensure appropriate care to the patient.  

State and federal laws prohibit us from commenting directly on the patient’s condition, prognosis or related details.  During this difficult time, the family asks that their privacy be respected by the news media and the public.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Director appointed to head hospital’s outreach services program to elderly

INDIANAPOLIS – Susan Waschevski has been appointed director of PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) at Franciscan St. Francis Health.

She most recently was deputy director of home and community based services with the State of Indiana Division of Aging. Prior to that, Susan was a program manager for CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions. 

In her role as PACE director, she oversees a comprehensive medical and social services program provided to participating members in their home. PACE is supported by an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, other health professionals and transportation providers.

A resident of Indianapolis, Waschevski received a bachelor of arts in sociology from Monmouth College in Illinois.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Wound care expert joins new Franciscan Physician Network practice

INDIANAPOLIS – Monica L. Joyner, MD, has been appointed medical director for Wound Care Specialists, a practice recently established by Franciscan Physician Network.

She has been affiliated with the Franciscan St. Francis Health Wound Care Institute as physician of hyperbaric medicine since 2008. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a medical approach using a pressure chamber to enhance and speed the healing of wounds and other conditions.

A Fellow and certified by the Academy of Physicians in Wound Healing and the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Joyner previously served as executive director and director of education for the Indianapolis-based MedTech College, where she also held various faculty positions. Prior to that, she was in private practice as a plastic and reconstructive surgeon.

Dr. Joyner received her undergraduate degree in psychobiology from Yale University and earned her medical degree at the Indiana University School of Medicine, where she completed a residency in general surgery. She also completed a plastic surgery at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

She is a member of the American Medical Association, Indiana State Medical Association, Aesculapian Medical Society (Indianapolis), National Medical Association, Health Volunteers Overseas (USA), Association for the Advancement of Wound Care and American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery.

Led by Central Indiana Region President Isaac J. Myers II, MD, Franciscan Physician Network is a multidisciplinary group of physicians throughout central Indiana. These physicians offer a variety of primary care and specialty care services and all practice at Franciscan St. Francis Health.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Free lung scans offered to military vets at Franciscan St. Francis in November

Countless veterans serving in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam
 War were exposed to the potent herbicide, Agent Orange, which
has been linked to many deadly maladies, including lung cancer.
INDIANAPOLIS – No one better than a military veteran understands the potentially grim consequences of going into harm’s way. And sometimes those dangers do not manifest until long after he or she trades in their uniform for civilian clothes.

This November, in honor of American veterans and in observance of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Franciscan St. Francis Health is offering free lung scans to at-risk veterans all month long.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death nationally and causes more deaths than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined.  Veterans have a 25-50 percent higher risk of lung cancer than civilian populations due to higher smoking rates and exposure to known carcinogens during active duty, such as Agent Orange, asbestos and battlefield combustibles.

According to the Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA), currently 32.2 percent of active duty military personnel smoke versus 19.8 percent of adults in the civilian population and 22 percent of veterans.

 “As a lung cancer screening center, we believe it’s important that we provide safe screenings to at-risk populations,” said Nadeem Ikhlaque, MD, lung cancer program medical director at Franciscan St. Francis Cancer Center. “Risk assessment and early detection of lung cancer are especially crucial for veterans as they have a significantly higher risk of the disease than the civilian population.”

While lung cancer may take decades to develop, symptoms do not usually occur until the cancer has progressed into late stages where survival rates are diminished. Screening those at high risk with low-dose CT scans can identify lung cancer at an early and most curable stage even before symptoms occur.

Franciscan St. Francis Health is among 14 medical centers nationally – and the only hospital in Indiana – to participate in the free screenings initiative, which is spearheaded by LCA and the Vietnam Veterans of America.

To qualify for the free screening, you must be between the ages of 55 and 75, a long-time smoker and veteran of U.S. armed forces. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 1-877-888-1777.

“Screening for lung cancer using low-dose radiation CT scans has the potential to save thousands of lives,” said Ikhlaque. “We encourage all veterans to learn more about their risk and to consider a lung screening.”