Founded in 1832 as the Marion County Farm, the county’s poorhouse, the center functioned as an extended care facility for the poor and elderly until 1996. During much of the 19th century, the Marion County Farm housed the poor, the mentally ill, the elderly, and the chronically ill cases refused by City Hospital and the City Dispensary. In 1869, the county constructed a new poorhouse and renamed it the Marion County Infirmary. The infirmary cared for the mentally ill until the county-run Asylum for the Incurably Insane was opened in 1899 at Julietta (on Brookville Road at the eastern edge of the county).

By the early 20th century, the infirmary cared primarily for the elderly. In 1924, a new building was constructed on Tibbs Avenue, and, in 1938, the infirmary moved to the Julietta facility and became the Marion County Home for the Aged. The state took over the Tibbs Avenue facility and assumed responsibility for the care of the mentally ill, who were moved to Tibbs Avenue from Julietta.

The infirmary suffered from constant overcrowding. Although the county completed a new, three-story wing to the infirmary in 1944, it was not occupied until 1946 following an Indianapolis Times investigation and charges of mismanagement. Grand jury investigations in 1948 and 1950 into charges of graft and corruption preceded the passage in 1951 of the “Julietta bill,” which replaced supervision by the county commissioners with a nonpartisan, independent board of managers and made the superintendent’s job competitive instead of a political appointment.

A 1964 renovation project expanded the facility to 375,000 square feet, including a new employees’ building, a new wing, and remodeling. The infirmary’s name was then changed to the Marion County Home and Julietta Convalescent Center. In 1982, the center opened one of the first Alzheimer’s units in the state; the following year it changed its name to the Marion County Healthcare Center. The average occupancy rate in the 1990s was 270 persons. More than three-fourths of its residents were elderly Medicare or Medicaid patients.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the institution lost more than $1 million annually due to inadequate Medicaid reimbursements, which had not kept pace with rising operating costs. In 1992, Marion County Commissioners approved a plan to move residents to Lockefield Village, a 240-bed, $11 million long-term-care center at the Indiana University Medical Center campus. Health and Hospital Corporation purchased the nursing home license. In 1996, the county moved the last patients to Lockefield Village. The county auctioned the former Marion County Healthcare Center’s land and buildings in 1997.

Revised March 2021

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