When Dr. Hector Perez moved to Fort Wayne to do his residency, he wasn’t necessarily planning on staying. That was in 1996 and he never left. Perez has spent his career focused on providing health care to minorities and underserved patients, primarily on the southeast side of town. Now, he’s expanding his reach with IU Health’s new $1.5-million-dollar facility that is slated to open in February in Southgate Mall.
“There’s a big demand for health care on the south side and there aren’t many providers,” Dr. Perez says. “It’s a lower income, higher Medicaid or Medicare type of population. There’s a higher population with diabetes, hypertension and chronic conditions that are more of a problem in the minority community that need to be assessed. It takes time and I want to have time to dedicate to my patients.”
“Since the very beginning of IU Health Fort Wayne in 2018, our board and leadership team has been focused on delivering care in all parts of Fort Wayne. We believe Dr. Perez shares our values and commitment to all patients. Through the expansion and investment into Dr. Perez’s practice, we are committed to having a meaningful impact on community health measures such as smoking, diabetes and infant mortality,” says Brian Bauer, president of IU Health Fort Wayne.
By joining the team at IU Health, Dr. Perez has access to resources that are often only found at larger health systems. “I have a little more time to spend with my patients and get their health under better control. I don’t have to see more patients to make ends meet,” he explains. “And, as a Hispanic, I want to help the minority community that is underserved. I just wanted to do my part. I made a conscious decision when I decided to stay here in Fort Wayne. That’s the area I wanted to serve. I might have been successful at other locations, but this is the population I actually want to serve.”
Dr. Stephanie Kidd, who moved to Fort Wayne last summer, says she’s especially excited about the potential growth of the health system as well as the impact she and her colleagues will have in this community.
“I wanted to join IU Health because the organization is a known leader in medicine with a strong reputation for exceptional medical care. I like being part of new organizations and helping them grow from the ground up where I can make a difference,” she says. “That’s when you often make huge strides, advancements and can have a big impact, when you’re first establishing. I think aside from the IU Health reputation, what also attracted me to practice in Fort Wayne were the possibilities of what we can become, the resources available to treat my patients, and the sincere commitment of improving the overall health of the community.”
Since IU Health’s first Fort Wayne office opened on Engle Road in August of 2018, its footprint has grown dramatically. That first office was quickly followed by the establishment of a second primary care office on Auburn Road and an urgent care center on Lima Road. Several months later, officials broke ground on a 25,000 square foot medical office building at the intersection of Stellhorn and Lahmeyer Roads, which is now open. In December of 2019, construction began on a new multi-specialty ambulatory surgery center at the corner of Aboite Center and Dicke Roads. It’s scheduled to open in late summer of 2021, along with the Southgate Mall facility where Dr. Perez will practice. In addition, plans are underway now for 137 acres of land on Airport Expressway and I-69.
“We’ve engaged an architecture firm and master planning firm to begin laying out the campus. We hope to break ground on the site in 2021,” says Bill Schenkel, IU Health Fort Wayne’s director of physician strategy and operations.
Dr. Robert Campbell and his wife, Dr. Rachel Grimmer, are both accepting new clients at the Stellhorn & Lahmeyer location. Campbell is a Fort Wayne native who was excited to return.
“I was attracted to IU Health because of the vision. IU Health Fort Wayne President Brian Bauer’s mantra is to ‘disrupt the market’ in a positive way; to provide a different view of healthcare,” says Campbell.
He appreciates the comprehensive offerings at his office, which make diagnostic testing convenient and efficient. “I think it’s really nice just logistically how much we have in our clinic. You can come to our clinic and get your blood drawn. We can walk down the hallway and we have an x-ray machine, a beautiful mammography suite, a DEXA scan to look at bone health and soon we’ll have CT scanning capabilities.”
The doctors also have varying extended office hours and offer virtual visits. Both are an effort to take convenience and accessibility to the next level.
Patients will also have better access to specialists. Riley Children’s Health, which is owned by IU Health, operates a clinic near the intersection of Cook and Coldwater roads that houses pediatric pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, rheumatologists, urology and cardiologists.
Dr. Mark King has practiced medicine in Fort Wayne for more than 30 years. He retired in 2017 but quickly discovered that he missed caring for his patients. When the opportunity to work for IU Health arose last year, he jumped at the chance. Like Drs. Perez, Kidd and Campbell, he appreciates variety of tools that are at his disposal.
“IU Health is loaded with resources which help me as a provider and ultimately help my patients, so that’s probably the biggest reason I joined. I was glad to be on the ground floor of something that’s going to be very big here locally, I believe,” Dr. King says.
While IU Health leaders and physicians are excited about the increased access to care, they stress that the quality of the care is a top priority. The relationships they form with their patients are of utmost importance.
“I really enjoy getting to know your whole family,” says Dr. Campbell. My new patient appointments are very thorough. We can talk about everything and I get to know you.”
“My patients truly are like family to me. I take time to get to know them well, to understand their goals, and to develop a care plan with his or her best interests considered,” adds Dr. Kidd. “I want to provide personalized, full spectrum care for my patients.”
“Being able to take care of somebody from cradle to grave is very rewarding,” concludes Dr. King.
Address: 7230 Engle Road, Suite 100 Fort Wayne, Indiana 46804