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After the ER closes, Blackford County officials are searching for answers



Hartford City, Indiana – The emergency department of Hartford City’s Blackford Hospital, which is located 62 miles north of Indianapolis, was shut down by IU Health on October 1.

Hartford City Mayor Dan Eckstein said. “You hate to say this, but we will probably lose people because of this decision. That’s tough for us to swallow.”

In June, Eckstein claimed he received a call from IU Health officials informing him that the hospital would be closed and that there was nothing he could do to stop them.

“We battled this and had meetings, but basically the decision was made,” said Eckstein.

Blackford County has joined the group of fourteen rural Indiana counties lacking an emergency room within their hospital.

Two of IU Health’s lifeline ambulances, which can transport patients to Ball Memorial Hospital’s closest emergency department in Muncie, are still in service. Depending on where you are in Blackford County, that could be a 30-45-minute drive.

According to County Commissioner Laura Coons, the county might be left vulnerable if both ambulances are out on a run at the same moment.

“Luckily, we have other counties around here that if we call them, they will come and help,” said Coons. We have Wells County next to us. Sometimes, we have to use Grant County.”

To address the challenges, a task team made up of community leaders and first responders was organized.

IU Blackford continues to provide lab services, a pharmacy, physical therapy, CT scans, ultrasounds, mammograms, pregnancy and postpartum care, and physical therapy.

First responders and community leaders organized a task team to address the problems, according to an IU Health release.

One task force member, Cherrie Brown, stated that she made sure all city employees had received CPR training as soon as possible.

“There’s talk of potentially doing some EMR training for residents so that neighbors can help neighbors if they find themselves in a challenging situation,” said Brown.

About fifteen minutes away from the western part of Blackford County, in Gas City, Indiana, is where Marion Health is constructing a hospital with a trauma center. When the hospital will open is unknown.