new hospital location narrows

Thursday, January 18, 2018 15:37 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

The exact spot where the new LaPorte Hospital will be constructed has been narrowed to two locations.

That's what LaPorte Hospital president and CEO Ashley Dickinson reported during a Wednesday night presentation at the LaPorte County Public Library in LaPorte's downtown area.

Dickinson said construction will begin sometime this year on the 20 acres of hospital owned property around the existing hospital at 1007 Lincolnway.

She did not reveal the specific location of the two sites, but did say demolition would be involved in the site preparation.

Some of the hospital owned property consists of parking lots in a residential area that also includes the new LaPorte County Emergency Medical Service ambulance station and post office.

She indicated the hospital would not go up where the post office exists but didn't rule out the possibility of the EMS station being in the footprint.

Dickson said soil testing and other standard procedures involved in any new construction must be completed before deciding on one location and revealing the location of the two sites would be jumping the gun.

''We don't want to get the cart before the horse,'' Dickinson said.

The new $125 million dollar hospital will contain about 200,000 square feet and be either five or six stories high.

It will be roughly 20-percent smaller than the current seven story hospital erected in 1972 but will be designed to allow for future expansion, if necessary, she said.

Dickinson also revealed the top three floors of the existing hospital are no longer used because of the trend nowadays for more outpatient care because of the advancements in medical treatment allowing for quicker patient recovery times.

No decision has been made on the future of the current building once the new hospital is constructed.

Dickinson said potential uses of the structure are being evaluated but if it's not occupied by a hospital for some other purpose or sold to another party it will be demolished.

''What we won't do is leave an empty building in the middle of downtown,'' Dickinson said.

Dickinson came over from Porter Regional Hospital in April and ever since the leadership team has changed dramatically.

52 nurses have also been hired, she said.

Many of the hirings stemmed from nurses leaving and temporary travel nurses being replaced with those who live in the area.

Dickinson said one of her goals is creating a work environment for nurses to want to stay long term.

Former state representative and candidate for mayor Tom Dermody said he was impressed with what Dickinson had to say and her wanting to start interacting with the public who felt sort of shut out on the happenings at the hospital since the 2016 majority acquisition by Community Health Systems.

CHS also owns Porter Regional Hospital and owns or is affiliated with more than 100 hospitals nationwide.

''I think if you ask most people in the community over the last couple of years it was necessary to have some leadership changes. It's a great start,'' Dermody said.