A Rebirth of Porter Health

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Published on July 28, 2010 with No Comments

Clearing began on the104 acres at the northwest corner of U.S. 6 and Ind. 49 that will be home to Porter Health System’s $210 million health facility. Over the next several years the unincorporated Liberty Township site will be transformed into a 430,000 sq. ft. hospital offering a full range of medical and surgical services. Designed to be exceptionally “user-friendly,” the six-story, brick and glass structure will feature 225 private inpatient rooms and 36 outpatient rooms.

“It is a re-birth of Porter Health that will result in a different institution than you have seen before,” Porter Health CEO Jonathan Nalli said.

Nalli describes the facility as 100 percent designed so that staff can care for patients more efficiently and services will be expedited. As an entirely new facility, Porter will have distinct advantages over other area hospitals.
“Upon entering the 15,000 sq. ft. lobby, for example,” Nalli explains, “one will find everything needed for registration. A bank of elevators there will take guests directly to the designated treatment area, and all equipment necessary for that treatment will be located there. Emergency rooms will have all needed testing labs and equipment nearby.”
About six months ago, Porter implemented best practice medicine that focuses on the patients and their needs. If patients can be involved in their care process, they are. Each step of the process is clearly explained to them. Staff makes rounds hourly, inquiring if anything is needed and indicating that they will be back in an hour to check on the patient. This gives the patient some measure of control, which lowers fear and stress. According to Nalli, evidence indicates that communicating with patients clearly and frequently about how and when they will be cared for results in “lower call lights, fewer falls and quicker recoveries.”
Porter will continue to build upon its patient-centered approach and other current strengths, such as its Cardiac & Vascular Institute. The hospital holds the highly sought-after Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana designation as a Blue Distinction Center for Cardiac Care. The hospital’s well-qualified staff includes the area’s only urologic oncologist, and da Vinci robotic procedures and surgical interventions overall are state-of-the-art.
Porter County Councilwoman Sylvia Graham, herself a registered nurse and former Porter employee, declares the new hospital “a great asset to the county.”
“Porter gives superb care,” she declares. “The current facilities have served well; but, technology is advancing so quickly, and the new medical technology and more comprehensive information systems will be terrific. It may entice more doctors to the area and should be a magnet for medical specializations.”
“The Council voted for the (10-year) tax abatement to stimulate jobs in the county,” Graham continues. “The construction will take years, creating many jobs.”
The hospital will retain 1,500 full-time staff positions, and approximately 126 new jobs will be created by the end of 2012. Nalli estimates the construction jobs will number about 600 over a two-year period with an expected payroll between $60 and $65 million dollars. Not only will Porter County’s economy be boasted through salaries, but also through the purchase of supplies and materials for the new construction. Referrals and patients from outside the county will visit the facility, further increasing the income base.
Additionally, the completed hospital will require 126 new staff members, including facility engineers and environmental services and medical personnel. Nalli notes that the Intensive Care Unit, for example, will increase from 21 beds to 32, resulting in an obvious need for increased highly trained and experienced staff to monitor and provide around-the-clock care for 11 additional patients.
Looking forward over the next 3-5 years, Nalli envisions Porter as a “stronger spoke and hub type of health system with more ancillary services.” This encompasses further development as a hub of clinical services and teaching and the opportunity to be a catalyst for new, medical-related training. Some 22 physicians have been recruited in the last two years. To further address the need for new specialties, Porter is working with three, Chicago-based, niche specialists, who would establish regular hours at Porter. The continual engagement of new disciplines and techniques has enormous implications for Indiana University Northwest’s expanding medical school and other regional nursing and health-related institutions of higher learning.
And, Porter’s goal of providing the best possible service to all of Porter County does not stop at the doors of the new facility. In addition to the Liberty Township project, they will build a large clinic at an undetermined site along U.S. 30 to serve the southern portion of the county. In the past six months, primary care doctors have been recruited for the site, which is projected to be up and running in three years. The clinic will be comparable to Porter Health’s current Portage facility, offering an emergency room and ancillary services, such as MRI, ultra-sound, and CAT scan. Expansion is slated for the health system’s current Chesterton site.
After a three-year process of selecting a site and meeting legal challenges, Nalli is eager to break ground on U.S. 6 set for an upcoming ceremonial ground breaking sometime in July. Meanwhile, he looks forward to collaborating with St. Andrews LLC, developers of the property adjacent to the hospital site in creating a 200-acre medical campus that will serve all of Northwest Indiana. Along with a senior living campus, the yet-to-be-approved St. Andrews tract is intended to provide varied services for the hospital, its staff, patients, and visitors.
For more information visit www.porterhealth.com.

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