Lutheran Health prepares to open new downtown hospital 4 months ahead of schedule

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — After more than two years of construction, Lutheran Health’s new downtown hospital is just weeks away from opening.

Lutheran Health is preparing to open the doors at its new downtown hospital on Nov. 13, four months ahead of their original construction schedule. The hospital, located across the street from the health system’s current downtown facility, St. Joseph Hospital, will bring several care options back to the downtown area. Along with more primary care options, they will have concentrations on geriatrics, orthopedics, cardiovascular, and robotics procedures.

“Our goal here is to provide compassionate care to the community with excellence, every patient, every time,” said Twilla Lee, CEO of Lutheran Downtown Hospital. “Our hope is that folks that come here will feel like there’s a caring environment, that it’s a positive environment for healing.”

To help inspire a positive atmosphere, the hospital has incorporated representations of water and nature throughout the building from the tiled backsplash at reception desks to the many large windows looking over the city.

When the hospital opens, it will have 60 beds available for patients. However, Lee said the building’s design was made specifically to offer several options for the hospital to expand their building in the future if needed.

“We can go up to a sixth floor and add beds there,” Lee said. “We can add [operating rooms], we also can add an elevator. We have, we call it a technology pad, that is outside of the [emergency department]. So should something happen that we’re in an emergency situation or we’re replacing a piece of equipment that’s large, we can bring in a temporary trailer. We’ve really tried to look ahead as we have those needs.”

The expansion possibilities do not end with the lot at Van Buren and Main Streets. Once Lutheran Downtown is up and running, the demolition process will begin to bring down St. Joseph Hospital.

“It’s served the community well for 150 years, but it’s tired,” Lee said. “When that is demolished, that property will then be a parking lot with really nice green spaces.”

Under the asphalt and green space will be the needed infrastructure to support another building.

According to Lee, the hospital has also worked with their neighbors in the West Central Neighborhood Association to come up with ways to minimize the impact on the surrounding neighborhood. They are looking to do that by taking the majority of hospital traffic to the east side of the building, off of Van Buren Street so that ambulances are mostly cutting through the neighborhood with their sirens and lights off to minimize traffic and noise.

They have also chosen to put one of the noisiest parts of the hospital underground. The hospital’s dock is all enclosed and mostly underground with systems that work to take out the fumes from the building. Having the majority of the dock underground will also help to dampen some of the noise coming from it. They have also designed their trash system to work as a pulley system instead of dropping the dumpsters to the ground.

Right now, traffic is the biggest concern for neighbors. Lanes have been closed on Van Buren and Main Streets for much of the construction and recently neighbors have been warned against parking on part of Jackson Street. Lee said these disruptions should wrap up along with the opening of the hospital, likely within the first two weeks of November.

You can take a look inside the hospital for yourself on Nov. 6 at a community open house, which runs from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Masks are required, however, the hospital will provide one for those who do not have one.

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