Innovation and efficiency.
Those are the two words heard most often from the developers of the new
Porter Health Hospital under construction at the corner of Indiana 49 and
The $210 million project, which has been ongoing for 13 months, is still on
budget and on schedule for opening in the fall of 2012. When completed, the
450,000 square foot, hospital will almost double the size of the current
hospital, which is 250,000 square feet.
From the first moment the public enters the hospital through the large main
entrance and steps into the three-story, naturally-lit foyer, they will feel
the new hospital experience that Porter is trying to achieve.
The goal is to improve the feel of the visit, while decreasing the amount of
transfer time through a combination of enlarged and dedicated passageways
and a more efficient layout of services.
The minutes saved moving patients to different care stations will help
hospital employees maximize care during the “Golden Hour,” which Porter
Health CEO Jonathan Nalli described as the critical time for patients to
receive care during a media tour on Wednesday.
To illustrate, the new ER center, which will house 30 rooms compared to the
current 12, has a special ambulance-only entrance that is literally feet
from two cardiac care rooms and three trauma rooms. Just outside the
emergency center is the center for important tests, such as ultrasounds and
Just a few yards down an employee-only hallway is the “central spine of the
hospital,” which holds an elevator bank with full hospital access and leads
directly to the surgery and ICU areas.
A patient could literally be transferred from the ER to the ICU in one
“Research has shown that that first hour (after injury or trauma) provides
the best survival chance for patients,” Nalli said. “The quicker that we can
provide care, the better, so we have tried to eliminate long hallway trips.”
For patients visiting the hospital in a less-urgent manner, the process will
also be easier and more comfortable. The reception area is three times
bigger than the existing area, actually bigger than the entire ER of the
existing facility. After checking in, visitors will be free to follow
well-marked hallways to their destination by stairs or the “central spine”
Every one of the 225 beds will be housed in a good-sized private room that
can comfortably fit 10 people.
“All of the rooms in this hospital will be private,” Nalli said. “There will
be no curtains or sharing of rooms.”
The biggest innovation in the hospital will be the 13-bed Cardiac and
Vascular Institute, which Nalli described as “a hospital within the
hospital.” The center, which will have a separate entrance so patients never
even enter the main hospital, will provide state-of-the-art preventative
care and treatment for heart patients.
“The more early intervention with the heart, the better,” Nalli said. “We
focused on the heart to save lives.”
The hospital dedicates the entire fourth floor to care for women and
children with 24 private post-natal rooms and 15 private neo-natal intensive
“This hospital is the evolution of hospitals designed to enhance and improve
every aspect of the facility,” Nalli said. “We wanted to make sure this
facility can provide the best health care for the next 70 years.”
Nalli said that the hospital construction has created more than 600 jobs for
36 companies, 97 percent of which have gone to businesses from northwest
Indiana and Chicagoland. Porter Health is also going to construct a 60,000
square foot medical office building attached to the hospital that will
employ workers for another year after the hospital is completed.
“Porter Health has come through at a time when this area needed an economic
driver,” Nalli said.
After completion, the hospital is expected to retain all of the current
system’s jobs and add another 126. Those jobs will range in scope from
engineering to registration, but will provide an average of $15 to $17 per
hour with full benefits.
The project has
made an effort to recycle as much unused material as possible, Nalli said.
Around 80 percent of the unused materials have been recycled, which amounts
to 617 tons of concrete, 192 tons of brick and mortar, 56 tons of metal, 643
tons of wood and drywall and 46 tons of paper and cardboard.