GOSHEN — A new neurology care center is under construction in the city and Goshen Health officials said the expansion of care the building and staff will provide is greatly needed in northern Indiana.

Dr. Jody Neer, a Goshen native, spoke at Wednesday morning’s groundbreaking at the property behind Goshen Health’s urgent-care facility along Elkhart Road.

“Within the neuro care center, patients are going to receive comprehensive services,” Neer said.

The new $4.5 million medical facility with a staff of 25 to 30 will help him reach that goal, he indicated.

“Our goal with this center is to provide quick access,” Neer said. “When your doctor tells you you need to go to a neurologist, you don’t want to wait, right?”

Neer is currently the only local neurologist.

Goshen Health President and CEO Randy Christophel said there will be a significant increase in staff at the new center that will give patients quicker access to care.

“Jody Neer is a fabulous neurologist, but he is one guy,” Christophel said. “When we open this up in the fall, we will have three neurologists and other providers, like nurse practitioners and other support staff. And then as we grow, we will add other neurologists, sub-specialists over time.

“Right now, people drive hours to go get sub-speciality neurology care, whether it be for Parkinson’s, epilepsy or multiple sclerosis. We are going to have all those provider skills here. But the difference with the facility is we bring all those diagnostic and treatment capabilities here also. It is designed to be a one-stop diagnostic, treatment evaluation location for these types of patients.”

Those patients will also be able to receive their treatments at the facility, according to Christophel.

It took two years of study and planning and decision-making before the ground was broken Wednesday, according to Neer and Christophel.

“We tied it into the community-needs studies that we do for our region and it links perfectly with out mission of improving the health of our communities,”Christophel said.

The hospital president said he recently read a study that suggested there will be a “significant increase” in the need for neurological care due to the aging population.

With the coming increase in demand for such care and the existing long waits, Christophel indicated the new center will likely serve patients from a wide area.

“I fully expect this to be a northern Indiana, southern Michigan regional draw service because the need is so significant,” Christophel said.

Neer put the backlog in numbers, saying he has patients who have to wait up to eight weeks for an appointment, which he views as unacceptably long.

“My preference would be within the week and that is what we will shoot for in the future,” Neer said.

Demand is so high for neurological care and other medical specialists, according to Neer, that patients will be willing to travel to an outpatient center like the one being constructed in Goshen.

“What I thought of this is oftentimes specialists tend to be located in big cities,” Neer said. “I think, much like our cancer center, you can decentralize care and put specialists in the community and people will come from the big city to the smaller towns for care if you do a good job.”

He said he already has patients who travel to Goshen from Fort Wayne or South Bend.

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Some of the conditions the center staff will treat include:

• Headaches, migraines

• Parkinson’s disease

• Multiple sclerosis

• Alzheimer’s disease

• Epilepsy

• Cerebrovascular disease and strokes

• Neuromuscular disorders

Services the center will offer:

• Electrodiagnostic tests

• Imaging

• Telehealth

• Infusion

• Lab

• Rehabilitation

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Roger Schneider is editor of The Goshen News.

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