Patients to be moved to new IU Health Bloomington Hospital early Sunday; old ER will close

·6 min read

Correction: This story has been updated to correct information about how many people the IU Health system employs in the area and when the earliest bus leaves the termin

In the early morning hours Sunday, Indiana University Health will begin transporting about 145 patients from its old hospital on West Second Street to its new $557 million campus on the city’s northeast side.

The health system has secured an additional 20 transport vehicles with which it will bring patients to the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital, said Alan Biggs, chief operating officer of the system’s South Central Region.

The vehicles will not be using their sirens as they will be transporting stable patients to the facility just east of the Ind. 45/46 Bypass and north of East 10th Street, Biggs told The Herald-Times.

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He said IU Health has worked with city and county law enforcement to coordinate the move. A spokeswoman for the city said no roads will be closed and while the city is coordinating with the health system, the move will require only “minimal extra work” by the city’s police force.

Katy Howe, director of emergency and trauma services for IU Health Bloomington, leads a media tour of the emergency room area Wednesday at the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital.
Katy Howe, director of emergency and trauma services for IU Health Bloomington, leads a media tour of the emergency room area Wednesday at the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital.

Biggs said he expects both emergency rooms to be open beginning about 3 a.m. Sunday. The move is expected to be completed within about 12 hours, and the old ER will be shut down sometime Sunday afternoon or evening.

Health system officials showed off their new facility Wednesday morning as construction workers, in hard hats and with tool belts, hammered and sawed in some areas to continue preparing the structure for the arrival of medical personnel and patients. In some portions of the new hospital, blue tape held signs of white paper on doors and walls. Plastic sheets still barred entry to some areas.

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A look inside the new hospital

The 620,000-square-foot hospital's white walls and brown doors are interrupted throughout the building by colorful works of art including mosaics that show nature scenes, which are designed to induce calm and support healing. IU Health employs about 5,000 people in the south central region.

A patient room is seen Wednesday during a media tour of the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital.
A patient room is seen Wednesday during a media tour of the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital.

The new hospital features:

  • Private rooms, which are larger than those at the current hospital, for each patient, which will help people recover and lessen the spread of infection. The new hospital has 364 patient rooms. The old one has 371, but some are not in use.

  • Implementation of flexibility in treatment, called “acuity adaptability,” which brings the necessary staff into the patient — rather than the patient having to be moved around. IU Health officials said they expect patient stays to be reduced.

  • An emergency department twice the size of the current one, equipped so that patients who are not admitted don't have to be transferred to other parts of the hospital for evaluation and tests. The department is expected to handle about 1,000 patients per week.

  • Nearly 1,800 parking spaces. The facility will provide free valet service at the main entrance.

Officials say new site offers more privacy, centralized services

Health system officials have said they envision the new campus as a regional health center that provides targeted care with state-of-the-art technology in greater privacy and at a higher speed and lower cost than what was possible in the existing hospital.

Brian Shockney, president of IU Health South Central Region, speaks Wednesday at a media event previewing Sunday's opening of the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital.
Brian Shockney, president of IU Health South Central Region, speaks Wednesday at a media event previewing Sunday's opening of the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital.

Brian Shockney, president of IU Health South Central Region, said the hospital also would promote healing by enabling patients to access many services in the same location, rather than having to travel all over town.

Infusion patients have a separate entrance to keep them in a "bubble" and to protect them from exposure to other patients and potential infections.

Hospital and IU officials on Wednesday emphasized the structure’s long-term impact on community health and education. Shockney said a newly formed committee marked the first time that university and health system officials are sitting together daily at a table to talk about training, education and the future of health care.

Training dummies used for teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation are seen during a Wednesday media tour previewing Sunday's opening of the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital.
Training dummies used for teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation are seen during a Wednesday media tour previewing Sunday's opening of the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital.

The campus’ full name is the Indiana University Regional Academic Health Center in Bloomington. It includes the hospital and the IU Bloomington Health Sciences Building, which connects to the hospital and provides teaching rooms in which IU students interact with mannequins and human actors to learn how to diagnose medical problems. The university's health sciences building was completed late in 2020 and has been in use all year.

From November 2020: IU's portion of new regional academic health center nearly finished

Cost of the new campus

While the new hospital comes with a hefty price tag, health care campus costs that exceed $1 billion are no longer a rarity. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, each of the eight most expensive hospital projects in 2020 cost at least $1.5 billion. That includes the $1.6 billion hospital IU Health plans to build in downtown Indianapolis.

Officials said IU Health plans to finance about 30% of the new Bloomington facility's cost and pay the remainder with resources including cash.

IU Health officials said the new facility will not affect the level of employment, charity care or payer mix: Half of current patients are covered by Medicare, the government program for the elderly, while 43% are covered by private insurance, with 7% getting paid through Medicaid, a mostly federally funded health insurance program primarily serving low-income people, pregnant women and people with disabilities.

Planning for the new hospital began about a decade ago when leaders decided that trying to update the current facility on West Second Street, just south of downtown Bloomington, was not the best way to meet the area's future health care needs.

“It’s been a long road,” Shockney said.

Buses to serve the facility beginning Monday

A new temporary city bus route will include a stop at the new hospital. Route 10 will begin service Monday and will run 7:10 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 8:10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays. More information on the route can be found on the Bloomington Transit website: tinyurl.com/bddp6n9m.

Zac Huneck, planning and special projects manager of Bloomington Public Transportation Corp., told The Herald-Times via email the temporary route will be replaced next summer by Route 90. That route “effectively combines three eastside routes with overlapping coverage and variable frequencies into a high-frequency route” that will leave every 15 minutes at peak weekday hours.

IU Health officials said they expect no demolition on the old site until next year. After demolition, ownership of the site will be transferred to the city, which is looking to redevelop the property for such uses as workforce and affordable housing, gathering spaces and a greenway that will connect with the city’s trail network.

Boris Ladwig is the city government reporter for The Herald-Times. Contact him at bladwig@heraldt.com.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: Patients to be transferred to new Bloomington hospital early Sunday

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