Original Article by Mary Beal

The Montpelier Redevelopment Commission convened at city hall on July 27th. Bill Walters, Executive Director of the ECIRPD, introduced Julie Thompson, BSN, RN, who holds the positions of Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Nursing Officer at Bluffton Regional Medical Center, located in Bluffton. This medical center is affiliated with the Lutheran Health Network. Together, these two entities will collaborate on staffing and managing a medical office set to open as early as January 2024. 

The office will occupy a portion of Montpelier’s former Chaney Hardware and Appliance Buildings on South Main Street. Notably, the building has been undergoing renovations for a few months, with substantial completion of one side already achieved, as reported by Montpelier Mayor Kathy Bantz. Bluffton Regional Medical Center intends to have a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner, supported by staff overseen by a visiting doctor who will have periodic availability at the office. City officials emphasize that appointments will be necessary for visits.

“We’ll try to get you in as soon as possible,” Walters told Thompson, adding that the commission had received a match grant to renovate the exterior and interior of the structure and has applied for more funds. Mayor Bantz also revealed her request for $100,000 in funding from the Blackford County Economic Development Corporation to further enhance the work being done at 123 S. Main.

Thompson told the commission, “We’re excited, especially with what’s happened in Blackford County with IU Health. We will be looking at and posting for a mid-level position, either a PA or a nurse practitioner because it’s hard to find family practitioners. We just can’t find them, so the PA or LPN will be under the supervision of a doctor, probably Dr. Williams, because he would be the closest, in Markle, and he’s well established,” Thompson commented. 

Regarding the office’s visiting staff, Mayor Bantz continued by noting the challenges in finding cardiac personnel following the impacts of COVID-19. She mentioned that a cardiologist from Bluffton passed away from COVID-19 and another chose not to practice in the area shortly before his scheduled start date. Consequently, Bluffton relies on a cardiologist from the Lutheran Health Network. However, when staffing levels recover, Thompson commented, “I’d like to have one come down here a couple of days a month. 

“Currently, our OB provider at the hospital has resigned, but I have a good lead on another one, and if so it would be good to have one come here one day a month to see patients. I’m looking forward to it,” Thompson said. 

With the contract now signed, the office is slated to open in January 2024 pending the successful recruitment and credentialing of staff, as well as the approval of the interior design. The facility will encompass a procedure room, two examination rooms, a restroom, a supply area, and employee break rooms, as outlined by Julie Thompson.