Chesterton Tribune

Chesterton Chamber members get a look at new Porter hospital

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Seventy-eight members of the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce donned blue booties over their shoes Wednesday afternoon for a sneak peek of the new 430,000 square-foot Porter Regional Hospital.

The reason for the special footwear? Well, if you just opened a $210 million house, you’d probably not want your guests walking around with muddy shoes.

Hospital staff is trying to keep the place spic and span for the grand opening, Aug. 25 at 6 a.m.

It would be a long task to list all the differences between the new facility at the corner of Ind. 49 and U.S. 6 and the current Valparaiso campus located at 814 LaPorte Avenue, but the most obvious aspect to note would be the size.

The regional hospital has nearly double the square footage of the older one and it’s immediately noticeable from the main lobby as visitors have to crane their necks to see the 25-foot ceiling.

Having been on the tour, Chesterton/Duneland Chamber Director Heather Ennis was quick to tell of her awe.

“The logistics of it are just beautiful and it’s such a dramatic improvement to health care,” Ennis said.

But don’t be fooled by all the extra space. The hospital is designed for supreme efficiency and getting the patient to where they need to be with no time spared, said Porter Marketing Director and tour guide for the day Karen Keltner. “It brings a whole new level of patient care,” she said.

New purchases make up 78 percent of the hospital equipment inside, including two daVinci robotical surgical platforms which will assist medical staff in gallbladder and neurological operations, and LED monitors to provide high quality images for physicians during surgeries.

The new equipment and layout Keltner said will expedite treatment to patients with serious conditions such as trauma or cardiac arrest. Porter CEO Jonathan Nalli said the first 90 minutes of injury or “the Golden Hour” are crucial for survival and shorter trips will make it easier for healthcare associates to deliver treatment by shaving off minutes.

Privacy, comfort and efficiency

On the tour, Keltner pointed out the three access points in the main lobby. The first leads into the new Emergency Department center (three times the size of the former) where 24 private rooms await patients, three special cardiac care rooms, two triage rooms and three other rooms specifically for trauma victims where they will be assessed for transfer to other medical facilities. For those cases, there is a special ambulance-only entrance and an airlift station just feet away outside the ED.

An elevator will also transport patients directly from the ED to second floor operating rooms and Intensive Care Units.

The lobby’s second access point is a flight of stairs taking patients directly to the ICU, private registration rooms, and spacious waiting area for families.

The operating area, shaped in a racetrack design, entails private preoperative suites for families to stay with patients and 25 post-operative rooms. Again, all private, but that is part of Porter’s goal in revolutionizing health care.

“Everything is about patient privacy,” Keltner said.

It’s also about comfort. Each patient room offers the amenities of home, if your home was a four-star hotel. These accommodations include wireless Internet connection, flat screen HD television, scenic window views, private showers/bathrooms and temperature control.

If you get hungry, there is a cafeteria, coffee shop and bakery, and a garden cafe which has its own level outdoors separating the hospital from the 60,000 square-foot medical plaza scheduled to open later this year.

The hospital’s fourth floor specializes in “family-centered” care for women and children. There are nine labor and delivery rooms and post-partum rooms. The waiting room in the Women and Children’s pavilion is already set up with decorations to welcome its first mom.

First time brothers and sisters will appreciate the windows made especially for them outside the incubation room so they can view their new sibling along with parents.

The floor’s 14-room Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) comes equipped “neonatology” controlling environmental stimuli for infants born prematurely. Unlike some hospitals that send parents home with little knowledge of how to care for their baby, parents are welcome to stay at Porter and learn techniques before they go home with their infant.

A Hospital Within a Hospital

Back on the first floor, the tour explored the “complete heart hospital within a hospital” or the Center for Cardiovascular Medicine. Porter made the choice to establish the center to provide medical and surgical management of heart and circulatory diseases specifically for Northwest Indiana’s growing population.

The heart center has 13 private cardiac rooms, four cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology rooms, and two future cardiac catheterization rooms.

There are also smaller things you would notice that contribute to a healthy patient experience and changing health care. For example, the foyer in the lobby is naturally-lit. Porter’s Chief Operating Officer Brian Sinotte said studies have shown that exposure to natural light instead of artificial is healthier and lowers stress. That also explains why there are so many windows that overlook the lake on the hospital’s north side.

Open House August 11

The general public can see for themselves the innovative touches of the regional hospital by attending the open house scheduled for Aug. 11.

Special tours are going on however for select groups like Porter’s Healthy Women program and the Senior Circle program.

Today, a special tour is being given of the Women and Children’s Pavilion for expectant mothers. Community leaders and other VIP tours will be conducted in the next few days.

Sinotte said hospital officials are in the process of giving general orientation tours to its associate staff of over 2,000.

Each staff associate is learning how the different departments work together so when the hospital officially opens they can adequately guide patients and visitors through the new Porter Regional Hospital.

“We are going to be doing a lot over the next few weeks,” Sinotte said.

Sinotte estimates the hospital has hired roughly 100 new associates in the months before opening. Once settled in, Porter will make additional hires for an expected total of 126 new positions created by the new facility.

Patients from the current facility will be moved to the new hospital on opening day and that building will close for good on Aug. 26. The 13-acre property was purchased by Valparaiso University last year, which plans to demolish the older hospital in 2013.

Healthy Hustle 5k

Keltner said residents can get a personal look at the hospital’s exterior by registering for the Healthy Hustle 5k Run/Walk event on July 28. The course will wind its way around the paved area of the new hospital campus and the natural lake area. Participants who register early before July 18 will receive a short sleeved T-shirt.

Keltner said Porter’s website,, provides further detail about what’s planned for the new hospital floor by floor. She said two new commercials were just uploaded to the site and will later run on local access cable channels.

U.S. 6 stop light

When the hospital does open, a stoplight will be in place at the U.S. 6 access road. Porter will also have valet parking available.



Posted 7/13/2012