Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Two year hospital construction expected to bring about 600 jobs

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Porter Hospital CEO Jonathan Nalli said the development and completion of the 104-acre future hospital site in Liberty Twp. will boost the region’s economy by paying out nearly $65 million in over 600 jobs generated by the two-year construction. “This economic development project we think can really spur the economy and move us out of the recession in Northwest Indiana,” said Nalli, saying the project’s goal is more than just building a replacement facility.

Hospital officials held a press conference on Thursday morning explaining the different stages of development for the next four to six months. Developers began clearing underbrush and trees last Friday in the southernmost 64-acres of the site located on the northwest corner of the Ind. 49 and U.S. 6.

The site is being cleared by Dyer Construction of Dyer who will be busy the next thirty days clearing away brush and selected trees. Nalli said they will leave as many trees as possible undisturbed to keep the site as natural as possible. Developers will later plant new trees as the site progress.

The northern 40 acres will remain in its natural state and will feature rain gardens to filter site runoff. The north section also includes a 7-acre lake.

An official groundbreaking ceremony is planned for July 21 which is limited-invitation but Nalli said hundreds involved in the development and community leaders will be present for the event.

Once the site is cleared, grading and filling work will be conducted. The hospital will delegate Cives Steel of Wolcott, Ind., for steel fabrication and Chicago Decking Erectors of Merrillville for erecting the steel framework.

Concrete foundation and pouring work will be performed by Subsurface Contractors of St Louis, Mo. The firm will drill and pour around 200 piers which is a specialized business skill, Nalli said. Scurto Cement Construction of Gilberts, Ill. will pick up the remainder of the concrete work.

The hospital in August will begin the bidding process to seek firms interested in constructing portions of the replacement facility and will announce the bid selections following a few weeks into the fall. Nalli said the weather will determine if the “build out” will begin this year or next.

Hospital officials are estimating the work will be completed on the $255 million state-of-the-art facility in the summer of 2012.

Nalli also announced the utility providers for the hospital. The Northwest Indiana Power Supply Company will be the contractor for gas and electric. Indiana American Water will supply the water. Damon Run Conservancy District has been selected as the site’s sewage treatment firm.

Nalli said the hospital chose Damon Run Conservancy over the town of Chesterton on the factor of timing. He said the hospital has “suffered” delays in legal discussions for about 15 months and felt that Damon Run Conservancy will be able to meet the hospital’s needs more quickly.

Robins & Morton out of Nashville, Tenn. will be the hospital’s general contractor.

Nalli said quality and cost played a big role in choosing the firms. “We feel very confident,” he said.

The subcontractors are looking to hire local people to perform the temporary work. Porter hospital will not do any of the individual hiring themselves, Nalli said, and the responsibility goes to the subcontractors who have access to the labor market and can freely decide the best workers for the job.

Leaving a Legacy

Nalli made it clear that the hospital’s current main campus on LaPorte Avenue in Valparaiso will be divested to be sold when the new facility is completed.

The hospital has not yet formally discussed selling the property with any potential buyers, although the location is in close proximity to the Valparaiso University campus.

Nalli said the reason for relinquishing the 71-year-old facility is because of high maintenance costs due to age. Keeping up the two facilities would not be efficient.

The idea behind moving to the Ind. 49 and U.S. 6 site was to choose a central location to serve the entire county. Nalli said the corridor is becoming one of the fastest developing areas as more of the population is settling north of Valparaiso, south of Chesterton, and east of Portage.

Hospital officials said the newer campus will be one-third larger than the existing Valparaiso campus. The total square footage of the new campus is estimated at 430,000 square feet compared to the current building’s 250,000 square feet.

The new campus will consist of approximately 225 private inpatient rooms, not including the proposed 36 private outpatient rooms, with possibly even more if the hospital decides to build an additional two floors. Thirty-two beds will be available in the intensive-care unit. The current site has approximately 195 inpatient rooms and 21 beds in its ICU.

None of Porter hospital’s other facilities in Portage, Chesterton, Hebron, and the north side of Valparaiso will close as a result of the new facility opening.

Hospital officials are also considering building a new 25,000-foot facility that will accommodate Valparaiso and the southern half of the county once the construction of the new hospital is completed. Location for that facility is yet to be determined.

Nalli said the current Valparaiso main campus has been an important part of the community for many years, but feels the new facility can serve the community better.

“We will be leaving a legacy,” he said.

“Minutes Save Lives”

Nalli said the focus for the new hospital will be convenience for the patient and efficiency. The different treatment departments such the emergency room, the ICU, and test labs will all be grouped closer to each other compared to the current site.

Patients and physicians will be able to elevator to the different departments more quickly. The hospital is also going to hire additional staff to handle the increased volume of patients.

“This is going to shave minutes. We all know minutes save lives,” said Nalli.

Nalli could not give an estimated number of jobs the new facility will bring, but all medical physicians hired by Porter will be board-certified.

The new hospital will be connected with a large office building for its physicians providing convenient access to the both the physicians and patients visiting their doctor’s office. Another entrance will lead directly into the Cardiac and Vascular Institute. The campus will have a total of five entrances.

The five stories of patient wings will offer a hotel-like atmosphere. Most patient rooms will be designed to include a view of the surrounding scenic woodlands.

Nalli said the design also includes newer technologies never before used by Porter Health Systems.

Plans were also revealed last week by St. Andrews LLC for a 106-acre medical park adjoining the hospital’s west boundary that will feature an additional medical campus, assisted living facilities, and age-restrictive housing for seniors.



Posted 7/2/2010




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