Growing Partnerships Growing Care

IU Health is expanding its reach, and is prepared to provide patients the most advanced neurological and orthopedic care in Indiana.
May 2, 2024
Heather Herron
Jeffrey Crane & Tim Brumbeloe

Since IU Health first came to Fort Wayne in August of 2018, its presence has grown dramatically. Now, the health care system is expanding again by forming two new partnerships that will give patients in northeast Indiana even greater access to specialists.

“We started out in Fort Wayne with primary care physicians, and we started with one doctor and one patient. Last month alone we saw over 15,000 patient visits,” Brian Bauer, president of IU Health Fort Wayne, says proudly. “We’re #1 in patient satisfaction and #1 in employee engagement, and we want to keep building on those services.”

Bauer and other IU Health leaders recently announced a new partnership with six neurologists and four neurosurgeons, who will now provide care for conditions ranging from migraines to strokes to multiple sclerosis along with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

“They have some of the most advanced new Alzheimer’s drugs that are coming out and they took part in those clinical trials, so people in Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana have been receiving that treatment before many people around the country who didn’t have access to it,” explains Bauer. “They are such a unique, important part of the fabric of Fort Wayne. It was just a natural fit for us. We always say we want to make 1 + 1 equal 3 and I think that’s what this partnership is starting to do.” 

Among those joining the team at IU Health are Dr. Loi Phuong and Dr. Nicholas Wetjen. They’re excited about what they and their colleagues can bring to the region. “We thought it would be a great partnership to help improve spine care in Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana. What we want to do is establish a center of excellence for spine care in terms of both surgical and non-surgical treatments,” says Dr. Phuong, a neurosurgeon. 

“IU Health provides us the resources that we need to do that.” 

“I believe that our partnership with IU Health holds great potential for all involved,” adds Dr. Nicholas Wetjen, general and pediatric neurosurgeon. “Here in Fort Wayne, we are dedicated to delivering exceptional care, drawing from our training and renowned institutions like the Mayo Clinic. The team brings top-notch expertise to our community, ensuring that patients receive the highest standard of treatment. It’s remarkable to see such a concentration of skilled professionals in a smaller setting like Fort Wayne, making quality health care more accessible to our residents.”

Dr. Phuong says he often sees patients suffering from debilitating back pain and it can be challenging to determine the cause. Thanks to another new partnership, he doesn’t have to send patients to a different health care system for help. 

“A lot of patients with back problems or back pain also have hip pain, and the hip pain could be either from the spine or from arthritis in the hip. Sometimes I send patients to see an orthopedic surgeon to figure out where the pain is coming from,” Dr. Phuong says. “That’s why I think the partnership with the Indiana Joint Replacement Institute is such a good thing. We can seamlessly work together to help the patient get well.” 

The Indiana Joint Replacement Institute (IJRI) was founded by Dr. Michael Meneghini, an internationally recognized orthopedic surgeon with a primary focus on knees and hips. On April 1, he joined forces with Dr. Matthew Noyes at IU Health’s Ernst Road location in southern Allen County to create what Noyes describes as a “musculoskeletal orthopedic sports medicine type office.”

Since Noyes focuses on the upper extremities like shoulders and elbows, the pair complement each other. “I think it just adds to what IU Health’s vision is,” says Dr. Noyes, who is the only orthopedic surgeon in our region nominated to be a member of the American Shoulder and Elbow Society. “What’s going to make people successful in health care moving forward is convenience for the patient. We’re in the service industry. People want to come to IU Health because we’re trying to make them better overall. Instead of bouncing all over to find providers, we’re trying to keep everything here.”

“This practice won’t be predicated on volume,” Noyes continues. “A lot of orthopedic groups focus on volume to pay the bills. We’re fortunate to be backed by the most successful health care organization in the state. We have their support to do the right thing and give quality care. I’m thankful to be on that team and to work with individuals who want to try to make things better.”

Bauer says they’re currently actively recruiting other orthopedic specialists to further expand the team. “It’s a very disruptive thing because we’re increasing access, we’re lowering the cost of care, and there hasn’t really been a third orthopedic player in Fort Wayne. We’re here to try and do the right thing for patients. Increasing access and lowering the cost of care have been two guiding principles for us from day one.”

The neurology/neurosurgery and orthopedic partnerships add to the growing list of specialists now practicing at IU Health Fort Wayne, including cardiology, general surgery and radiology. IU Health opened a 40,000-square-foot ambulatory surgery center in 2021 in southwest Fort Wayne where patients can undergo procedures in a variety of specialties like gynecology, colorectal surgery, plastic surgery, pediatric surgery, ophthalmology and otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat). 

In order to continue to meet the needs of patients, Bauer says he remains focused on bringing more premier providers to northeast Indiana. “We’re very intentional about who we partner with, and I think that attracts top talent in the region. Health care systems are constantly competing for top talent employees, and I think our culture here has attracted a lot of people. We hope that continues,” he says. 

Indiana University Health

Address: 130 W. Main St., Suite 125, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802

Phone: (260) 234-5400

Website: iuhealth.org/fortwayne

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