VALPARAISO | A year ago today, a bulldozer took the first swipe of dirt near the southeast corner of Ind. 49 and Burlington Beach Road, breaking ground on the Valparaiso Health Center of St. Mary Medical Center.
On Feb. 4, the $17 million facility will be open for business.
Invited guests got an early look at the 55,000-square-foot outpatient center Thursday night.
The public preview, which will include an autograph session with Chicago Bears player Israel Idonije from noon to 2 p.m. and a simulcast from Chicago radio personality Dick Biondi, will last from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the facility, 3800 St. Mary Drive.
Community Healthcare System COO John Gorski said the community does not need another hospital, but it needs this type of outpatient center.
Physicians' offices, specialists, lab services, imaging suites, an immediate care center, a women's diagnostic center and physical therapy room are spread over two floors.
Equipment includes a spacious MRI, CT with half the radiation, 3D mammography with same-day results, a bone densitometry suite and a digital X-ray system.
There are two community rooms for support groups and presentations. The building has a cafe, and a healing garden will open outside in the spring.
Janice Ryba, CEO of St. Mary Medical Center, said one of the goals was to create a peaceful, calming environment for patients.
The decor uses neutral shades and water elements. Trees break up the lobby seating near large glass windows. A picture of dunes along Lake Michigan hangs in an MRI room, and a now-empty hallway wall soon will feature changing pieces by local artists, in cooperation with the Chesterton Art Center.
The building sits in a mostly undeveloped area, which Gorski said reminded him of the cornfields where The Community Hospital in Munster now stands.
The health center is the start of what is going to be a growing part of Valparaiso, Mayor Jon Costas said.
"This section of Route 49 is really the future of our city," he said.