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