Porter’s New Hospital Taking Shape

By: Karin Woodside Last Updated: August 4, 2011

This project has been a focal point for our health system, and will continue to be a focal point for our health system for at least the next 70 years,” stated Jonathan Nalli, CEO of Porter Health System, during a tour of the new hospital’s progress Wednesday, August 3, 2011. Nalli welcomed the press in the future cafeteria of the new facility, a journey that is nearing completion after 4 years, 3 months. “It’s like building your own house,” stated Nalli, “Except it’s $210 million dollars.”

A “focal point at 6 and 49,” the new hospital not only has expanded the capabilities for better healthcare, but has also stimulated the local economy. “This part of the region needed some kind of economic development driver: Porter Health System has come through,” Jonathan said. The estimated number of 600 construction jobs over the 18-month period have been correct. The project saw 455 people employed during the construction peak in June 2011. Once the facility is complete, 1,500 full-time positions are expected to be retained, with around 126 new jobs created with this project.

Thirty-six companies local to Northwest Indiana and the Chicagoland area have been retained to work on this property, representing 97% of the project’s total trade cost. On top of the construction of the new facility, a 60,000 square foot medical office building will be attached to the hospital. “This is something we feel is a necessary part of bringing together healthcare and providing better solutions,” stated Nalli. The added building will provide the construction workers jobs for another year.

The project has not only benefited the economy: “This hospital construction project provides an incredible example of how projects are going green,” Jonathan said, discussing how nearly 82% of the waste generated from construction has been recycled. Since the project began in June 2010, recycled materials have included 617 tons of concrete, 192 tons of bricks, masonry and mortar, 56 tons of metal and plastic, 643 tons of wood and drywall, and 46 tons of paper and cardboard. And the project is a very clean project, with minimal debris, to increase efficiency. “A lot of credit goes to the contractors and construction workers; they keep a tidy house,” stated Nalli.

Nalli began the tour in the Garden Level of the facility. Housing support infrastructure, environmental offices, engineering offices, materials management, and information technology, the level is also home to the cafeteria, a room capable of hosting 80 people, with an outdoor patio for additional seating. He then led the tour to the core of building, or the central spine, as they refer to it. “This is the first aspect of efficiency,” stated Nalli. These public access elevators, directly off the lobby, offer easy access to all floors, making it simple to get to where you need to go and get the care you need.

The first floor features the lobby, with a gift shop and coffee shop for convenience. The floor also boasts private office bays for registration and admission. “Once you register in this area, in the front of the hospital, you’re good to go. Then you can travel everywhere throughout the hospital and not have to worry about another encounter point, it’s all clinical care after that.

The first floor also houses the emergency department. The reception and triage area of the ER is the entire size of the current emergency department. “We’re more than tripling the size of what we’re going to offer to our patients,” Nalli said. The emergency department will now offer 30 beds in private rooms, more than double the current offering of 12 beds in curtained rooms, and two nurses' stations will cover the entire department. “When you come into an emergency department, roughly 25% of the patients that come in require admission. The remaining are sent for outpatient or are discharged home,” stated Jonathan, discussing the hospital's goals on providing the best service and getting them quickly to the necessary floor for treatment. Private hallways for staff and patients facilitate the quickness of getting the patients to the diagnostic equipment on the first floor.

On to the second floor, the ICU and operating rooms are 15 feet from the elevators, providing efficient and fast delivery from the emergency room. The existing ICU houses two departments on two different floors that share staff and services. The new facility has one large 32-bed unit, expanding by 50%, designed for efficiency, with two nurses' stations, one for each set of 15 rooms. The facility also has the capability to construct another 32-bed intensive care unit on top of the existing unit.

In the existing hospital, there are approximately four check-in bays where patients register when they are preparing for surgery, a back and forth process. For efficiency in the new facility, 23 outpatient beds are in one unit, with private rooms that the family can wait and the patient’s belongings can remain in during their procedure. The existing campus also only has nine operating rooms; the new facility will offer 10 rooms, with the capabilities for two more, if needed in the future. Designed in a racetrack-style to increase efficiency, the operating rooms are connected in the middle with a large room, designed for doctors and nurses to easily access other rooms and get supplies. The exterior ring is designed for patient flow, so “it doesn’t cost minutes to get the patients in and out of surgery.

The third floor offers more of the private rooms; every patient room in the facility is private. Every room has its own bathroom, private just to the patient, not utilized by staff in any way. “We want to offer them the opportunity to make this as much like home as possible during the couple days they are here,” said Nalli. The views on the north and northwest side of the building overlook a lake, one of the many reasons the current location was chosen. “Studies show that a calming environment improves patient care,” Jonathan noted. The other patient rooms in the facility overlook wooded areas, also calming and peaceful.

The fourth floor houses Labor and Delivery, Postpartum, and Neonatal. “It takes us to the next level of what we are providing in neonatal care,” stated Nalli, referring to the private neonatal rooms. Currently, the unit is open at the existing facility. The private room design at the new location offers more comfort for the families. A central nurses' station overlooks the rooms, so staff can keep an eye on their patients while allowing the family privacy.

In the existing hospital, our cardiac services are spread out over three units,” Jonathan said, “We have moved all of those into one large area.” Because there is such specific testing devoted to cardiac care, the new hospital created a specific unit for cardiac patients. The Cardiac and Vascular Institute, housed on the first floor of the new building, offers 13 beds dedicated to cardiac care, from tests to procedures. Patients will enter through the institute’s own entrance, receive their care, and recover all in one location. “It is the latest in how we provide cardiac care. It is a true hospital within a hospital,” stated Nalli.

The new hospital is on track to open in 2012. “We still have a year to go, but we’ve created so much,” Nalli said.


  1. The new hospital, 13 months into construction
  2. Jonathan Nalli, CEO, stands in the first floor lobby
  3. Nalli talks about the larger emergency department
  4. Wiring to be run throughout the building
  5. Nalli brings the tour to the intensive care unit
  6. One of the new operating rooms 
  7. Nalli discusses the private neonatal rooms  
  8. Nalli shows the new Cardiac and Vascular Institute