VALPARAISO | At 6 a.m. Saturday, the doors to the 73-year-old Porter hospital at 814 LaPorte Ave. will close to new patients, beginning a move of its staff and patients nearly eight miles to Porter Regional Hospital.
The moment the current hospital closes, the new one will open at 85 E. U.S. 6.
Then begins a six- to eight-hour process of nearly 35 ambulances transferring about 150 patients from the Valparaiso site to the new hospital campus.
Patients will be color-coded, following that color path in halls and elevators along the route to ensure proper room-to-room transfer. The most ill patients will be transferred first, said Karen Keltner, manager of marketing and communications for the hospital.
Several ambulances are equipped to handle intensive care patients. A specialized ambulance from Fort Wayne will transfer babies from the neonatal intensive care unit, Keltner said.
Women in labor and patients at the end of their life will be handled case by case, with hospital staff working with the patient and their family to decide what is best, Keltner said.
Ron Donahue, business development manager for Prompt Ambulance Service — one of several ambulance companies involved in the move — said Prompt has been working with Porter hospital officials since February to coordinate the process.
A computer program will track each patient during the transfer and calculate the progress of the move, percentage-wise.
Friday afternoon, Prompt workers were preparing equipment, loading stretchers into ambulances and prepping defibrillators and monitors.
Donahue said 80 Prompt employees will be working on the transition. Each ambulance will be staffed with two paramedics and three EMTs.
Vehicular traffic will be restricted today in the area around the Valparaiso hospital.
The following streets will be affected: Garfield Avenue, from Lincolnway south to Union Street; LaPorte Avenue, from Garfield Avenue east to Roosevelt Street; Brown Street, from Greenwich Street east to University Park Drive; Greenwich Street, from Brown Street north to Lincolnway; Monroe Street, from Greenwich east to University Park Drive; and Indiana Avenue, from Greenwich east to Garfield Avenue.
Parking will be banned on the north side of Monroe Street from University Park to Garfield Avenue. Parking also will be banned on the west side of Greenwich Street, from Brown Street to Lincolnway.
Prompt arranged to have a teddy bear for each child going through the transfer and a plant awaiting adult patients in their room at the new hospital.
The teddy bears were donated by Build-A-Bear Workshop in Westfield Southlake mall.