Chesterton Tribune

Porter shows off new hospital; project on schedule for 2012 opening

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BY DOUG ELISH

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 U.S. 6.

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 CAT scans.

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 minute.

“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” of elevators.

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 care rooms.

“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.”

Job creation

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.

Going green

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.  

 

Posted 8/4/2011