Building for the future

Posted in Heath-innovation on Sunday, August 29, 2010 12:00 am

The recent groundbreaking ceremony for the new Porter Memorial brought excitement and onlookers.

Northwest Indiana's newest hospital will soon be under construction in Porter County and will include some of the most advanced technologies and programs available anywhere in the nation, according to its chief executive officer.

"At Porter Health System, we are on an exciting mission to construct a new world-class hospital that will enable us to provide our patients with quality medical care unlike any other hospital in the area," says Jonathan Nalli, CEO of Porter Hospital.

Located on 104 acresat the intersection of U.S. 6 and SR 49, the $215 million, five-story facility will encompass 430,000 square feet and offer a comprehensive range of medical and surgical services. The design includes modern amenities such as 225 private inpatient rooms and 36 private outpatient rooms.

"This regional hospital will provide a level of advanced medical technology and personalized care not available in the area today," Nalli says of the facility which will take two years to build.

The new Porter Hospital will replace the aging 70-year old structure near downtown Valparaiso that was county-owned for most of its history.

Ownership changed in April 2007 when Porter County officials sold the hospital to Tennessee-based Community Health Systems for $120 million and a commitment to invest at least $210 million in a new hospital.

Those hospital construction plans were approved by the Porter County Plan Commission on May 12 of this year. Bids were awarded in July.

Robins & Morton of Nashville, Tenn., will act as general contractor.

Subcontractors are Dyer Construction, of Dyer, for site work; Cives Steel, of Wolcott, Ind., for steel fabrication; Chicago Decking Erectors, of Merrillville, for steel erection; Subsurface Constructors, of St. Louis, for foundation and pier drilling and pouring; and Scurto Cement Construction of Gilberts, Ill., for the remainder of the concrete work.

Damon Run Conservancy District, which sends its sewage to Portage for treatment, won out over the town of Chesterton for the sanitary sewer service contract.

Other utility contracts went to NIPSCO for gas and electricity and to Indiana American Water for water. Bids for further work on the facility will be sought in August and awarded in the fall. That work will start later this year or next year, depending on the weather, Nalli says.

Some 600 construction jobs could be created over the next two years with the construction of the new Porter hospital main campus, he says.

Those jobs could support a payroll between $60 million and $65 million, Nalli says.

Beyond being a replacement hospital, the new facility at the northwest corner of Ind. 49 and U.S. 6 inLiberty Township could spur the economy and help move Northwest Indiana out of the recession, he says.

Porter will sell the LaPorte Avenue hospital because of the expense to maintain it, but it will keep a 25,000-square-foot emergency and diagnostic facility in the city, possibly on U.S. 30, Nalli says.

Since June 25, the site subcontractor has been clearing underbrush and workers have started taking out necessary trees.  This overall process will clear the entire lower 64-plus acre site, with the exception of several sites where protected trees will be left, Nalli says.

The grading process or leveling and smoothing the surface of the site will allow for proper water drainage and building as well as parking lot placement, he says.

"Concrete and steel will begin arriving over the next 60 - 90 days. Out to 90 days we should see the concrete foundation in and steel frame erection beginning," Nalli says.

This month a "build out" bidding process will be held, and it's expected to take another 30 to 60 days to complete that process.

After this bidding is finished and awarded this fall, the construction work is expected to start later this year or next spring, Nalli says.

Most of the unincorporated land north of U.S. 30 along Ind. 49 is zoned residential, but it is expected to draw commercial interest, potentially from national restaurant, hotel and retail chains, thanks to the construction of a new Porter hospital at Ind. 49 and U.S. 6.

"From the development of new construction jobs and surge to the economy, to soon having the finest regional medical facility in our own backyards, the benefits abound for Porter County and everyone is a winner," Nalli says.

"In the next few months we will be seeing the new Porter hospital take shape. It's an exciting time at Porter, and an exciting time to be in Porter County."

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