News Center

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Franciscan Immediate Care Center to close temporarily

INDIANAPOLIS – Franciscan Immediate Care Castle Key Plaza will close temporarily at the end of the business day on Tuesday, June 30 (8 p.m.).

The facility, located at 4527 E. 82nd St, is restructuring its operations, which will enable it to better serve patients and employers in the future, Franciscan Immediate Care officials said.

“Patients of the Castle Key location are being notified of this,” said Paul E. Driscoll, MD, executive medical director for Franciscan Physician Network in Central Indiana. “We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to our valued patients and we hope to make this transition as smooth as possible.”

Because all Franciscan Immediate Care centers use the same electronic medical records system, patients can be seen at any of the other locations in the Indianapolis area.

Those Immediate Care centers include:
Village Park Plaza-Carmel 14641-1 Thatcher Lane   317-564-7025
Thompson Commons  4210 E. Thompson Road  317-888-3508
Greenwood  1001 N. Madison Ave.  317-899-5546

Launched in 1981 by the Bloomington, Ind.-based Unity Physician Group, Each Franciscan Immediate Care facility is always staffed by at least one physician and a highly trained staff committed to service excellence. Learn more about Franciscan Immediate Care centers by visiting

Thursday, June 25, 2015

St. Thomas More Free Clinic: Where compassion and caregiving converge

MOORESVILLE, Ind.  – He had no family or friends and resided in an acquaintance’s garage, his meager monthly funds made it almost impossible for him to afford much-needed medications and other necessities.

It was a nurse coordinator’s continued outreach that helped steer him to a free clinic to receive the medications he needed – and learned to trust the clinicians who were treating him.

That’s just one of the many success stories that have occurred at St. Thomas More Free Clinic, a faith-based health-care ministry which is observing its 10th anniversary of service this month. The clinic offers free, non-emergency medical care to the poor and medically underserved in Morgan County.

Launched initially as a ministry of St. Thomas More Catholic Church in 2005, the clinic is now located at 1125 N. Indiana St. The free-standing facility has six exam rooms, a waiting room and discharge area.

Principal funding for the clinic is made possible by the Kendrick Foundation with continuing support from Franciscan St. Francis Health, Franciscan Physician Network and local social service agencies.

From the clinic’s beginnings, Franciscan St. Francis doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other volunteers have staffed the clinic, offering patients a variety of services including lab tests, X-rays, diagnosis and treatment of minor acute illnesses, diabetes education, chronic disease management, medications, dental services and consultations with a social worker if needed.

Chief among Franciscan St. Francis volunteers has been nurse Shelley Voelz, former director of the hospital’s standards compliance and patient safety. Voelz and her husband, Ted, have served as clinic co-directors since November 2005.

The clinic, which is open the first and third Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., averages about 20 patients each month. Most experience serious and often-neglected illnesses and medical conditions.   

And thanks to a recent grant from Franciscan Alliance Foundation-Central Indiana, the facility will soon add a nurse practitioner to its staff, who will see patients on rotating Wednesdays and Fridays.

“The clinic would not exist without the combined efforts of so many,” said Shelley Voelz. “We sincerely thank those who have made this program such a successful community benefit outreach over the last decade.”

For its service to the community, the clinic was presented with the 2009 Tony and Mary Hulman Health Achievement Award from the Indiana Public Health Foundation. In 2012, Cheryl Howard, RN, former clinical educator, was a recipient of the Salute to Nurses Community Outreach Award, presented by The Indianapolis Star. In large part, she was cited for her volunteer work at the clinic. She continues to serve as a clinical nurse lead at the facility.

Dawn Scott, RN, clinical services director for Franciscan St. Francis Health-Mooresville, is a secretary for the clinic’s board of directors. E. Doug Poplin, MD, a hospital occupational health specialist, serves as medical director for the clinic.

 “The free clinic is part of our hospital’s ongoing commitment to address the underserved medical needs of Morgan County residents,” said Scott. “We are proud to play a role.”

In recognition of its patients, volunteers and other supporters, St. Thomas More Free Clinic  will host a free open house and picnic at the clinic from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, June 27. 

The clinic is accepting new patient appointments by calling 317-831-1697

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

FDA ruling allows heart valve patients to limit blood-thinning medication

Franciscan St. Francis Health surgeon authored scientific study leading to FDA ruling

INDIANAPOLIS – Patients who have received On-X® mechanical aortic heart valves at Franciscan St. Francis Heart Center may soon be able to reduce their regular blood-thinning medication regimen, according to a recent expanded labeling claim granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

While all mechanical heart valve patients must continuously take anticoagulant medication (warfarin), the FDA’s decision makes the On-X valve the only one in the world that allows patients to be managed at a substantially lower dose, beginning three months after their surgeries.

“The On-X valves are designed with breakthrough technology that causes less blood cell damage than traditional mechanical valves and are the only valves with a pure carbon coating,” said Marc W. Gerdisch, MD, chief of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at Franciscan St. Francis Heart Center. “This development is significant for patients. It enables many to lower their blood-thinning dosage dramatically and experience an enhanced quality of life, with a 65 percent decrease in risk of medication-related bleeding complications.”

Dr. Gerdisch is the co-medial director of the Franciscan St. Francis Heart Valve Center. In 2013, he was the first surgeon in the nation to implant the On-X Aortic Prosthetic Valve with Anatomic Sewing Ring in a 35-year-old male from Ellettsville, Ind. “This design innovation facilitates implantation and avoids trauma to the heart, further expanding the advantages of the On-X valve,” he said.

“At Franciscan St. Francis Heart Valve Center, we have used the On-X mechanical valves since 2006 and have implanted hundreds,” said Dr. Gerdisch, a senior partner with Cardiac Surgery Associates. “It represents only a fraction of our valve surgeries, but it plays a crucial role in our ability to provide superior results for our patients. It provides the opportunity for a younger patient to have a single valve for life, with reduced risk. I find many patients who have had tissue valves implanted while they were young choose an On-X as their second valve because they have no desire to have a third.”

Studies have shown that up to 50 percent of untreated patients with severe aortic valve disease will not survive beyond an average of two years after the onset of symptoms. Common signs are shortness of breath and increased fatigue. Fortunately, surgery to replace the valve can extend their lives.

Click HERE to view a patient’s experience with heart valve surgery and the Franciscan St. Francis Heart Center team who treated him.

Monday, June 15, 2015

New physician joins Franklin Township Family Medicine

INDIANAPOLIS – Cass Ramos Cortez, MD, has established a practice with Franciscan Physician Network Franklin Township Family Medicine.

He joins John P. Snook, MD, and advanced practice provider Collette Utley, NP, whose offices are located at 8325 E. Southport Road, Suite 100.

Board-certified in family medicine, Dr. Cortez most recently was affiliated with Terre Haute Medical Clinic, providing pediatric, adult and geriatric care to patients.

Dr, Cortez received his undergraduate degree in economics at Boston College followed by pre-medicine studies at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. He earned his medical degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine and completed family medicine residency training at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, where he served in three hospitals in southern Indiana, Illinois and Western Kentucky.

Franklin Township Family Medicine provides medical care for the entire family, from newborns to seniors. To make an appointment with Dr. Cortez, call 317-862-6609.

Franciscan Physician Network is a division of the Mishawaka, Ind.-based Franciscan Alliance. To learn more about network primary and specialty care services in central Indiana, go to

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Franciscan St. Francis Health ER physician honored for service

INDIANAPOLIS – Randall M. Todd, MD, has received top honors from the Indiana Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians (IACEP).

Dr. Todd, medical director of Franciscan St. Francis Health’s emergency departments, was recently awarded the Fred G. Osborn Outstanding Indiana Emergency Physician Award. He was cited for his outstanding leadership, compassion and dedication to patients, the hospital system, colleagues and community through the practice of emergency medicine in Indiana.

As president of Emergency Physicians of Indianapolis, Dr. Todd leads a team of 45 physicians, advanced practice providers and support staff, serving at Franciscan St. Francis’ emergency rooms in Indianapolis and Mooresville.

The two departments treated 102,000 patients in 2014.

Dr. Todd, who has been affiliated with the hospital since 1988, has helped steer many innovative programs, including cath lab activation for heart attack patients and stroke and sexual assault response teams. He also has held several clinical and administrative 
leadership positions during his tenure.

He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Miami University (Ohio) and earned his medical degree, with honors, from The Ohio State University. He completed his emergency medicine internship and residency at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

Dr. Todd has held memberships on the Emergency Medical Services Commission of Indiana, Stroke Prevention Task Force, and served on the IACEP board of directors.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

New clinic offers fast treatment for patients with severe neck, back pain

INDIANAPOLIS – A new spine triage clinic recently opened at Franciscan St. Francis Health with the goal of quickly assessing and beginning treatment for patients with acute neck and back pain.

The clinic is a combined effort of Rehab Services and the Franciscan Physician Network Spine, Rehabilitation and Neurosurgical Specialists. It is part of an evolving comprehensive Neuroscience Center.

The triage clinic is staffed five days a week, with Erica Cottrell, MD, and Anthony Mimms, MD, sharing time there. Two additional physicians will join the team later this summer, expanding the clinic’s capacity.

Under the spine triage clinic model, patients with neck or back pain call a dedicated phone number, 317-528-BACK (physician referral not required). Through a phone interview
using a standard set of questions and a scoring algorithm based on complexity of the medical
problem, length of symptoms and previous treatments, patients are assigned to the most appropriate medical evaluation.

During the initial spine triage appointment, patients undergo a joint evaluation by a physical therapist and physiatrist. Together they establish a plan of care, often involving physical therapy, which begins right away.

“Right now patients may have to wait weeks to get an appointment with one of our spine specialists,” said Chris DiGiusto, neuroscience service line director. “This clinic will expedite getting patients to the right provider, avoiding both delays in care and unnecessary visits, tests and medications.”

The spine triage clinic is housed in the physical therapy gym on the first floor of the 8051 medical office building at the hospital’s Indianapolis campus. It will eventually move to the third floor.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Young adult volunteers receive scholarship boost from St. Francis Auxiliary

INDIANAPOLIS – Three area students will advance their college education thanks to scholarships they were recently awarded by the Franciscan St. Francis Health Auxiliary.

The recipients, all of whom are active volunteers at Franciscan St. Francis Health’s Indianapolis and Mooresville campuses, collectively received $5,000. They are:

Amanda Feagans. She currently attends the University of Evansville and studies the neurosciences. She volunteered more than 200 hours at the Indianapolis Emergency Department in 2014.

Shelby Jarvis. This Franklin Central High School graduate volunteers at the Indianapolis campus. She will attend Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis.

Michael Eineman. A recent graduate of Mooresville High School who volunteers at Franciscan St. Francis-Mooresville, Eineman will attend Indiana State University in Terre Haute.

“We are proud of these students and what they have accomplished and they all are excellent volunteers,” said Auxiliary President Dan Dennison. “We wish them the best as they pursue higher education and their career goals.”

Since 2007, the Auxiliary has awarded more than $40,000 in scholarships to deserving young volunteers. The Auxiliary’s 100 members serve as volunteers in variety of areas throughout Franciscan St. Francis’ hospitals.

In addition to the scholarships, the Auxiliary also financially supports other hospital programs and initiatives including Franciscan Hospice House, car seat safety for children, cancer, educational services, pulmonary rehabilitation and Center of Hope.

To learn more about Franciscan St. Francis Health Auxiliary or to become a member, go to

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Stormy weather: Franciscan St. Francis Health named ‘ambassador’ to help public

INDIANAPOLIS – Franciscan St. Francis Health has been named as a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is the only hospital system in Indiana and among only a few nationally to attain that designation.
This recognition means the hospital’s three campuses in Indianapolis, Mooresville and Carmel collaborate with the National Weather Service (NWS) to educate the local communities about preparation for severe weather situations. Additionally, the hospitals will coordinate their emergency response plans and social media communications efforts with Indianapolis-based NWS meteorologists.
“This initiative improves communication between NOAA and its partners,” said Diana Leonard, emergency management coordinator for Franciscan St. Francis. “NOAA will send ambassadors relevant information and toolkits for preparedness weeks and planning information for Weather-Ready Nation-sponsored events.”
In 2012, the NOAA designated Franciscan St. Francis as Storm-Ready Community Supporter. The hospital’s Emergency Management program also has hosted free National Weather Service Storm Spotter training to the public in the past.

“Severe weather consistently has been one of central Indiana’s highest threats over the years, Leonard said. “While we have the latest technology to monitor the weather and even detect tornadoes on radar, the trained human eye is still our first line of defense.”