News Center

Friday, April 26, 2013

On-site center provides convenient clinical care, fitness to City-County workers

INDIANAPOLIS – Employees of the City of Indianapolis and Marion County enrolled in a medical plan with ADVANTAGE  Health Solutions Inc. SM  (Advantage) now have a central location to have their medical and wellness needs met.

The Franciscan St. Francis Health Clinic, located on the 12th floor of the Indianapolis City-County Building, provides services to workers with minor aches, injuries and infections delivered by an on-site nurse practitioner and medical assistant with physician oversight.

Also at that location is the ADVANTAGE Wellness Center, where a wellness coordinator provides health risk assessments, cholesterol and glucose screenings, weight management and other related programs.

 “Care is provided on a walk-in basis and no appointment is necessary for urgent visits,” said Joe Sagorsky, director of Franciscan St. Francis Employer Health Solutions. “Wellness services are by appointment only.”

The facility is open 8 a.m. to noon, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

 “Our partnership with Franciscan St. Francis and Advantage have truly made a positive impact on the quality of work-life for City-County employees,” said Bruce Henry, deputy director of City-County Human Resources.  “The positive impact on our employees’ health and wellness has exceeded our expectations.”

For more information about the clinic, call 317-327-5120. The wellness center can be reached at 317-327-5018.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

United Way lauds Franciscan St. Francis Health for 2012 campaign efforts

United Way 2012 Co-chair Marianne Glick (r) presents the Distinguished
Campaign award to St. Francis Health HR Director Corey Baute, who
is joined by Craig Nordhoff, HR specialist.
INDIANAPOLIS – Franciscan St. Francis Health has received the 2012 Distinguished Campaign for the largest increase in contributors from United Way of Central Indiana.

The number of Franciscan St. Francis employee donors increased by 109 percent last year with nearly $70,000 raised, far exceeding the organization’s annual goal.

The hospital also was presented with the Company That Cares Award, which recognizes organizations in a six-county area who achieve fundraising and participation goals, and surpass benchmarks in volunteer community participation. Franciscan St. Francis also received the Breakthrough Award for having a more than 30 percent increase in giving compared to the previous year.

“”I’m grateful for this recognition and especially proud of our employees for showing they care, not only through the excellent work they do daily, but also through their support of great organizations such as United Way of Central Indiana,” said Robert J. Brody, president and chief executive officer for Franciscan St. Francis Health.

For more than 90 years, United Way of Central Indiana has supported programs and agencies focused on education, income, health and basic needs. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Advance health-care directives make patients’ medical decisions known

INDIANAPOLISWho do you want to speak for you and make health-care decisions when you are unable to do so?

Advance health-care directives instructions are given by individuals specifying what actions should be taken for their health in the event that they are no longer able to make decisions due to illness or incapacity.

That’s why Franciscan St. Francis Health is helping lead and coordinate efforts to educate the public about the importance of having advance health-care directives.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, information stations will be set up at Franciscan St. 
Francis hospitals in Indianapolis (cafeteria) and Mooresville (main lobby).  An information station will also be hosted at the Greenwood Park Mall from noon to 2 p.m. at the Rejuvenation Station in front of Sears. Hospital clinical experts, social workers and chaplains will be on hand to answer questions.

The events coincide with the National Health Care Decisions Day, designed to raise awareness about the importance of advance care planning.

To learn more about advance directives, go to

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Franciscan St. Francis Health appoints regional marketing vice president

INDIANAPOLIS – Kelli F. Searles has been appointed regional vice president of marketing for Franciscan St. Francis Health, a division of Franciscan Alliance.

In that role, she is responsible for leading key marketing development, enhancing physician integration processes and community relations. She most previously served as director of marketing and community relations for Franciscan St. Francis.

Searles, who has been with the hospital system for 26 years, has helped lead comprehensive and award-winning marketing and communications strategies and two major rebranding initiatives at Franciscan St. Francis’ three hospital campuses. She also served as marketing director for Kendrick Memorial Hospital in Mooresville, which was acquired in 2000 by the hospital system.

Before her health-care marketing years, she held several editor and reporter positions with community newspapers and a daily legal newspaper. She earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism and psychology at Ball State University.  

Accredited by the Public Relations Society of America, Searles is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the Society of Healthcare Strategy and Market Development.  A resident of Greenwood, Searles and her husband, Mark, are parents of two teens.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Franciscan St. Francis Health is first hospital in nation to implant breakthrough aortic heart valve device

INDIANAPOLISFranciscan St. Francis Health is the first hospital in the United States to implant a new device that could improve the quality of life for patients with aortic valve disease.

The On-X® Aortic Prosthetic Valve with Anatomic Sewing Ring is the most advanced mechanical heart valve and first to address the important concern of distorting the adjacent structures within the heart. The innovative valve is the only mechanical valve that matches the contour of the heart.

The first implant was performed by Marc Gerdisch, MD, chief of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at Franciscan St. Francis Health and surgical director of the St. Francis Heart Valve Center. Gerdisch, a partner with Cardiac Surgery Associates, collaborated on the design of the device with On-X® Life Technologies, Inc.

Gerdisch, an independent physician who chooses to practice at Franciscan St. Francis Health, successfully implanted the device in, a 35-year-old male, from Ellettsville, Ind. The patient sought help at Franciscan St. Francis Health when his condition eluded diagnosis for several months.

Physicians at the Franciscan St. Francis Heart Valve Center found that infection had destroyed the patient’s aortic valve and severely damaged the mitral valve. Although Gerdisch was able to repair his mitral valve, the aortic valve required replacement. Fortunately, the advanced On-X valve technology was available at St. Francis Heart Center.

According to Gerdisch, there are several types of aortic valve disease and all of them pose a threat. Aortic valve disease often progresses slowly without obvious symptoms. Once symptoms appear, untreated patients have a poor prognosis. Aortic valve disease is responsible for more than 25,000 deaths yearly.

Studies indicate that up to 50 percent of untreated patients will not survive beyond an average of two years after the onset of symptoms. Fortunately, surgery that replaces the aortic valve can extend the lives of those who suffer from aortic valve disease.
“The On-X heart valve with Anatomic Sewing Ring is a major advancement and allows us to again improve the quality of life for younger patients with aortic valve disease,” said Gerdisch. “The new valve permits preservation of normal cardiac architecture and tension is reduced on the tissue where the valve attaches. This type of innovation is designed to facilitate implantation and reduce trauma to the heart, ensuring a greater likelihood of long-term benefit.”

On-X valves are designed with breakthrough technology that causes less blood cell damage than traditional mechanical valves.

Franciscan St. Francis Health is one of the leading hospitals for the Prospective Randomized On-X Valve Reduced Anticoagulation Clinical Trial (PROACT). The purpose of this trial is to determine if patients that receive the On-X valve can be safely maintained with reduced levels of blood thinner or eliminating the use of Coumadin (warfarin) altogether.

This landmark trial has already produced important findings that could impact the future for patients that receive a mechanical valve. Gerdisch will be presenting study results at professional conferences internationally this year.

The Franciscan St. Francis Heart Valve Center is the first dedicated multidisciplinary center for evaluation and treatment of heart valve disease in Indiana. As the only Healthgrades 5-Star valve repair and replacement surgery program in Indianapolis for two years in a row, its team of heart surgeons and cardiologists are experienced in managing complex valve disease. By offering advanced surgical techniques not available at most hospitals, the center’s staff offers new life and hope to patients. 

The On-X® Aortic Prosthetic Valve with Anatomic Sewing Ring is the first mechanical valve with a sewing ring to address the important concern of maintaining a more natural anatomy after implant. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New vice president selected to lead Franciscan Alliance ACO

INDIANAPOLIS – Jennifer A. Westfall has been appointed regional vice president for Franciscan Alliance Accountable Care Organization (ACO).

Westfall has played a major role in developing the hospital system’s ACO strategy and was instrumental in forging a Pioneer ACO contract – the first in Indiana and one among only 32 health systems nationally. In her new role, she is responsible for oversight and direction of all ACO activities, including new partnerships with outside health-care partners to develop new shared savings opportunities.

The goal of the ACO is to develop Franciscan Alliance into a care management organization with the ability to manage the health of a population of people with higher quality and patient satisfaction at a reduced cost.
Westfall, who will continue to serve as executive director for St. Francis Health Network, 
previously served as vice president of marketing and product development, has been affiliated 18 years with Franciscan St. Francis Health, a division of Franciscan Alliance.

A resident of Indianapolis, Westfall is a graduate of Ball State University, is a member of Executive Women in Healthcare, has served on a number of healthcare related Boards and currently serves as chair for the Cooperative Managed Care Services Board of Directors, and has extensive background in the health care industry.

Westfall and her husband, Marc, have two adult daughters.

Franciscan St. Francis Health receives top marks for safety and patient experience

2013 Healthgrades report lists Indianapolis, Mooresville hospitals among nation’s elite

INDIANAPOLIS – Franciscan St. Francis Health-Indianapolis has achieved the unique distinction of being the recipient of Healthgrades 2013 Outstanding Patient Experience Award™ and the 2013 Patient Safety Excellence Award™. 

Less than two percent of the nation’s hospitals achieve this unique recognition, with only 72 hospitals performing at the levels required to distinguish their organization in these two areas in the same year.

Being designated with both honors is unique as it demonstrates outstanding performance in two key areas as measured by data reported to the federal government. The patient safety indicators are measured by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and consumer experience surveys reported via the Hospitals Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS).

Franciscan St. Francis Health-Mooresville also received the Patient Safety Excellence Award.

When compared to hospitals performing in the bottom five percent for patient safety, on average, patients treated in Patient Safety Excellence Award hospitals were also:

  • 81 percent less likely to experience hip fracture following surgery compared to hospitals ranked in the bottom 5 percent in the nation.
  • 80 percent less likely to experience pressure sores or bed sores acquired in the hospital compared to hospitals ranked in the bottom 5 percent in the nation.
  • 70 percent less likely to experience a catheter-related bloodstream Infection acquired in the hospital compared to hospitals ranked in the bottom 5 percent in the nation.

During the 2013 study period (2009-2011), Patient Safety Excellence Award hospitals showed better than expected performance in providing safety for patients in the Medicare population, as measured by objective outcomes (risk-adjusted patient safety indicator rates) across 13 of the 14 most common patient safety indicators, as defined by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

For more information about Healthgrades, to download a full copy of the report or to get information about hospital and physician quality, visit: today.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Franciscan St. Francis Health selects new chief financial officer

INDIANAPOLIS – Keith A. Lauter has been appointed Chief Financial Officer, Central Indiana Region for Franciscan St. Francis Health, a division of Franciscan Alliance.

In that role he will oversee all financial matters, business development and outreach activities with physicians, health care providers and insurance companies at Franciscan St. Francis’ hospitals in Indianapolis, Mooresville and Carmel. 

He succeeds Jay Brehm, who was appointed senior vice president of Strategic Planning and Business Development for Franciscan Alliance earlier this year.

From 2004 to present, Lauter served as chief financial officer for Franciscan St. Elizabeth hospitals in Lafayette and Crawfordsville. Among his accomplishments was the establishment of company clinics, acquisitions and development of physician practices and he additionally led several cost-savings initiatives.

Lauter is a familiar face to many at Franciscan St. Francis having served as its director of finance and later as vice president of finance from 1989 to 2004. Before coming to Franciscan Alliance, he worked for North Central Health Services and Arthur Anderson & Company.

Lauter received his undergraduate degree in accounting at Ball State University at Muncie and later earned a master’s in business administration from Indiana Wesleyan University at Marion.

A Fellow of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, he has been active in various professional and community outreach programs, including: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Healthcare Financial Management Association, Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis and as a recreational soccer coach.

Lauter and his wife, Linda, are the parents of three children.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hematologist /oncologist joins transplantation unit at Franciscan St. Francis Health

INDIANAPOLIS – John R. Edwards, MD, has joined Indiana Blood and Marrow Transplantation (IBMT), located at Franciscan St. Francis Health.

He joins Luke Akard, MD; Michael Dugan, MD; and James Thompson, MD, in providing care to patients undergoing autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplantation, as well as patients with hematological malignances, including acute leukemia, myeloma and lymphoma.  Edwards brings to IBMT extensive clinical and laboratory experience in hematology, oncology and stem cell therapy.

“For more than 25 years IBMT has provided patient-focused care along with cutting-edge clinical trials for those in need of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation or fighting blood cancer,” said Akard, IBMT co-director. “The addition of a caring physician like Dr. Edwards, who also brings a wealth of expertise in stem cell processing and all aspects of clinical trials, will allow us to continue to stay at the forefront of advanced care with the patient and family as our primary focus.”

Board-certified in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Edwards comes to IBMT from CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services in Cincinnati, where he served as Medical Director and provided consultative services in cellular therapy, regenerative medicine and clinical trial oversight.  From 1996 until 2009, he was the founding medical director of the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, where he established the adult and pediatric transplant program as well as an active research program.

He later served as president, chief operating office and chief medical officer for Lifeforce Cryobanks, a National Marrow Donor program-approved umbilical cord blood.

A member of the International Society for Cellular Therapy and the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplant, he earned his medical degree from the University of Florida and trained in pediatrics as well as pediatric immunology and hematology/oncology at the University of California, San Francisco.

He performed additional fellowship training in BMT and pediatric hematology/oncology at the University of Florida before joining the faculty at Vanderbilt University as Director of the Pediatric BMT Program.

Edwards held appointments as an instructor at the University of Florida and University of California, San Francisco ,as well as being on the adjunct faculty at Duke University and the University of Central Florida.

The IBMT clinic is located in the Franciscan St. Francis Cancer Center, 8111 S. Emerson Ave.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

‘Fortify Your Spine’ with Franciscan St. Francis Health physicians at April 24 event

INDIANAPOLIS -- Osteoarthritis, arthritis and spinal disc degeneration don’t have to keep you down.

That’s why clinical experts with Franciscan Physician Network Spine Specialists will share current information on diagnosis, treatment option, rehabilitation at the “Fortify Your Spine” program 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 24.

The program will be held at the Franciscan Cancer Center, 8111 S. Emerson Ave. It’s being conducted in coordination with the hospital’s Spirit of Women program.
Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and share dessert with spine specialists Robert Prince, MD, and Erika Cottrell, MD.  

These two physicians will also be joined by neurosurgery nurse practitioner Barb Bowers, as well as spine-specialized physical therapists Sarah Randolph and Crystal McCallum.
Cost is $5 per person. 

To learn more and to register for the program, call 317-528-5865.

St. Francis Health surgeon explains orthopedic, joint replacement therapies April 25

COLUMBUS, Ind. – People with hip and knee pain can return to leading active and rewarding lives – and Franciscan St. Francis Health wants to show them how.

The Franciscan St. Francis “Road Show” will be coming to town at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 25, at the Comfort Inn and Suites, 2485 Jonathan Moore Pike. In the spotlight is a hip and knee replacement seminar. A light buffet will be served at 6 p.m.

Robert A. Malinzak, MD, will explain the latest procedures arthritic treatment and joint replacement. He is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in adult reconstructive surgery and joint replacement.

Malinzak is a surgeon with the Center for Hip & Knee Surgery at Franciscan St. Francis–Mooresville, recognized in the United States and the world as a premier center for joint replacement surgery.

To register for this seminar, call St. Francis toll-free at 1-877-888-1777.

More information about the Center for Hip & Knee Surgery is at

Monday, April 1, 2013

Pope’s decree of miracle paves way for beatification of Mother Maria Theresia Bonzel

Her vision of health care ministry propelled health care ministry in Indiana, Illinois

MISHAWAKA, Ind. – On Wednesday, March 27, 2013, Pope Francis approved his first decrees from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Among them was a ‘Decree of Miracle’ acknowledging a miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God, Mother Maria Theresia Bonzel, foundress of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration.

This miraculous cure of a young boy from Colorado Springs, Colo. – who is now a young adult --  paves the way towards her beatification, which is scheduled to take place on Nov. 10, 2013 in Paderborn, Germany.

Mother Maria Theresia, was born on Sept. 17, 1830 in Olpe, Germany.  She sought to combine the contemplative and active religious life through an unfailing commitment to Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the works of mercy in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.  Mother Maria Theresia died on Feb.6, 1905.
About the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration
The Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration continue to serve in education, health care, and other ecclesial ministries in Germany, the United States, the Philippines, and Brazil.  In doing so, they follow in the footsteps of Jesus who spent His public life praying, teaching, healing and ministering to others. The Provincial House of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Province is located in Mishawaka, Ind. These Sisters serve in the Archdioceses of Chicago and Indianapolis, and the Dioceses of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Lafayette-in-Indiana, and Gary. The Sisters rejoice that this gift comes during their celebration of the 150th Jubilee of the Congregation and the Year of Faith. To learn more, go to