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MICHIGAN CITY — It wasn't just brick and mortar.

The joys of birth and saving lives along with sorrow were alive there for 114 years.

A closing ceremony and prayer service held recently marked the closure of Franciscan Health at 301 W. Homer St. on Michigan City's west side.

The Catholic-owned hospital shut its doors after the move Saturday to the new $233 million facility along Interstate 94, said Dean Mazzoni, president and CEO of the hospital.

He said the new hospital containing 123 inpatient beds went into service when the emergency department opened its doors at 6 a.m. Saturday.

The first patient at the new facility at 3500 Franciscan Way arrived at the emergency department at 6:05 a.m. Transportation of existing patients at the Homer Street location began at 8 a.m. Saturday and the final patient arrived shortly after noon, a hospital spokesman said.

In all, 52 patients were transported by crews from Superior Ambulance.

Mazzoni said plans call for an urgent care facility to open inside a small portion of the old hospital in March.

What will be done with the rest of the empty 400,000 square feet of space has not been decided.

''That's a work in progress,'' Mazzoni said.

He said the goal is to repurpose as much of the facility as possible and have it used for some type of medical-related purpose.

Mazzoni said service providers and potential investors have already been talked to about the site.

According to Franciscan officials, the land at the current site was donated in 1902 to the Sisters of St. Francis specifically for a hospital.

The original 25-bed hospital opened two years later.

In 1920, the hospital was expanded to 50 beds then 100 beds six years later.

Another addition came in 1968, then the original structure was demolished, officials said.

Trish Weber, vice president of operations and chief nursing officer, said the move to a new facility is exciting, but tears have definitely been shed by herself and other sentimental members of the staff.

''I've been here for over 20 years now and I will miss it. We've had a lot of great memories here,'' Weber said.

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