(La Porte, IN) - All 71 patients at La Porte Hospital were moved Saturday a short distance to the new $125 million Northwest Health.
Simultaneously at 6:00a.m. on Saturday morning, the new hospital at 1331 State Street opened, while the old hospital at 1007 Lincolnway closed. Fourteen ambulances from La Porte County Emergency Medical Service and surrounding agencies began pulling into the new hospital at 1331 State Street, with patients, about 30 minutes later.
It took about six hours to complete the move using entrances on each side of the four level hospital to bring in and take patients to their new rooms. Intensive Care and COVID-19 patients, for example, went inside through the back entranceway along Washington St. while the main entrance in front of the hospital was used for Intermediate Care patients. Most of the ambulances carried one patient at a time but mothers and their babies rode together. The most ill patients were moved first, according to hospital officials.
Northwest Health spokeswoman, Karen Keltner, said multiple entranceways were used “to get patients as quickly and safely to their new assigned room.”
One of the westbound lanes of Lincolnway was closed to help clear the way for ambulances leaving the old hospital for the new one with patients. Several connecting streets leading to the new hospital were also blocked to regular traffic for exclusive use by ambulances during the move.
Eight officers from the La Porte Police Department along with several members of the Indiana Department Transportation helped keep the routes clear. “We’re basically providing traffic control trying to keep cars away from here so the ambulances came make a seamless delivery to the new hospital,” said La Porte Police Chief Paul Brettin.
A flag raising ceremony and short prayer service led by Justin Chadwick, Chaplain Coordinator for Northwest Health, was held outside the new hospital about 30 minutes prior to the doors opening.
“More than 12 months of meticulous planning and training have gone into making this move safe for our patients,” said Ashley Dickinson, Chief Executive Officer of the hospital. Keltner said four departments, including wound care, will remain at the old hospital until September when construction of a medical plaza for those services next to the new hospital should be completed.
No formal announcements have been made on what will happen to the old hospital. La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody said the over half century old structure needs to come down. His vision is for the site to become a gathering place for large public events downtown at some point. “Not sure what that is right now. We’ll look forward to working with the hospital team,” Dermody said.