The new Franciscan Health hospital in Crown Point will be heavily influenced by the health system's recent experience of building a new campus in Michigan City.

In fact, a comparison of a conceptual drawing for the major Crown Point project bears close similarities to the hospital the company recently built in Michigan City.

In a Sunday Times exclusive, Franciscan Alliance announced its plans to construct a new facility worth about $275 million to $300 million at Interstate 65 and U.S. Route 231, as the centerpiece of a major development that could include a new location for Andrean High School and other education, residential and retail expansion.

The new Crown Point hospital is expected to closely mirror the $243 million Michigan City facility, which opened in January and was designed to be the prototype for future Franciscan Health campuses.

Repurposing the old hospital on Homer Street in Michigan City also will inform what Franciscan Alliance does with its existing Crown Point hospital, formerly known as St. Anthony on South Main Street, Franciscan officials said.

The older Crown Point facility was built in 1974.

"Certainly going through the operational exercise of constructing and moving into a new facility has provided a template that we will build upon to make the process as efficient as possible," said Robert Blaszkiewicz, a Franciscan Alliance spokesman.

In June, Franciscan Health opened an urgent care center at the old Michigan City emergency room, bringing some health care access back to that neighborhood. The new campus, alongside Interstate 94, is located near a major expressway — much like the one planned for Crown Point at the Interstate 65 and U.S. 231 interchange.

Franciscan also is looking into adding primary care, services for frail older adults and mental health and drug treatment to the old Michigan City site, the regional president and CEO has said.

The health system has yet to decide what exactly it will have at the St. Anthony Crown Point site after the new campus opens, though the space will be used for administrative and health care services, Blaszkiewicz said.

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He noted this will partly be determined through "potential new partnerships in education and clinical services."

While the skeletons of the new Crown Point and Michigan City hospitals will be the same, what will be different is what's inside. Blaszkiewicz noted, for instance, that Crown Point will have a neonatal-intensive care unit.

Crown Point also will have a larger cardiovascular unit and plans to add an acute rehabilitation unit and a comprehensive stroke center.

Another difference in Crown Point will be the ability to add five new floors and about another 200 beds, giving it the potential to double in size. Jon Gilmore, president and CEO of Franciscan-owned contractor Tonn and Blank Construction, said the expansion ability is being added because of the expected growth in Crown Point.

"If the community grows, we can grow with it," Gilmore said.

The hospital prototype was created virtually, allowing contractors to size everything ahead of time and see the innards of the building — such as the piping — on a computer instead of having to break through a wall, Franciscan officials said.

"What makes this the hospital of the future from a construction standpoint is flexibility," Gilmore said. "Also we design it all in a virtual world so that we can make everything fit before we ever start building it."

Franciscan's facilities will be filled with the latest in technology, including artificial intelligence and smart patient rooms, officials there said.

The rooms will have smart TVs that show customized educational videos, movies on demand and relaxation stations.

Signs outside the rooms are connected to the patients' electronic health records that will keep physicians' orders and alerts about patient safety up to date.


Health Reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.