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IU Health LaPorte Hospital

LaPorte Hospital is shown.

Stan Maddux, The Times

The exact spot where the new LaPorte Hospital will be constructed has been narrowed to two locations.

That’s what LaPorte Hospital President and CEO Ashley Dickinson reported last week during a gathering at the LaPorte County Public Library.

Dickinson said construction will begin sometime this year on the 20 acres of hospital-owned property around the existing hospital at 1007 Lincolnway.

She did not reveal the specific location of the two sites, but did say demolition would be involved in the site preparation.

Some of the hospital-owned property consists of parking lots in a residential area that also includes the new LaPorte County Emergency Medical Service ambulance station and post office.

She indicated the hospital would not go up where the post office exists but didn’t rule out the possibility of the EMS station being in the footprint.

Dickinson said soil testing and other standard procedures involved in any new construction must be completed before deciding on one location. Revealing the location of the two sites would be jumping the gun, she said.

"We don’t want to get the cart before the horse," Dickinson said.

The new $125 million hospital will be about 200,000 square feet and either five or six stories high.

It will be roughly 20 percent smaller than the current seven-story hospital erected in 1972 but will be designed to allow for future expansion, she said.

Dickinson also said the top three floors of the existing hospital are no longer used for patient care. Advancements in medical treatment allow for quicker patient recovery times, which has driven the trend toward increased numbers of outpatient procedures.

No decision has been made on the future of the current building once the new hospital is constructed.

Dickinson said if no one else wants to use it, it will be demolished.

"What we won’t do is leave an empty building in the middle of downtown," Dickinson said.

Dickinson arrived in April, and ever since the leadership team has changed dramatically.

In addition, 52 nurses have been hired, she said.

Many of the hirings stemmed from nurses leaving and temporary travel nurses being replaced with those who live in the area.

Dickinson said one of her goals is creating a work environment for nurses to want to stay long term.

Former state Rep. Tom Dermody said he was impressed with what Dickinson had to say and her desire to start interacting with the public.

Community Health Systems, which now owns LaPorte Hospital, also owns Porter Regional Hospital and owns or is affiliated with more than 100 hospitals nationwide.