La PORTE — La Porte Hospital will break ground officially on the new hospital in late August this year, but the community will start to see tangible evidence of property preparations when demolition of some hospital-owned structures begins next week.
The hospital has earmarked six former residential homes for demolition along State Street, between Teegarden and Tyler streets. The homes are owned by the hospital and will be taken down to prepare the land for staging and building of the new facility.
The exact footprint of the new hospital has not been finalized, but officials expect to build and create space for construction staging in the general area west of the existing La Porte Hospital. No other structures have been scheduled for removal at this time.
“There are still some questions to be answered about some parcels of property that are in-between the hospital and where we want to build,” said Stacey Kellogg, regional manager, community relations with La Porte Hospital.
“What we’re trying to do is get as much of our property prepared so that when we have a final footprint, we can go ahead and get shovels in the ground,” she added.
Pavey Excavating out of La Porte has been commissioned for the demolition work, with civil engineering work by RQAW of La Porte.
“While we’re very excited to get shovels in the ground this summer, it’s encouraging to be moving forward with preparations at all the various levels of our new hospital build,” said Ashley Dickinson, CEO of La Porte Hospital. “We have been doing a lot of work on the internal side, planning the various departments inside the hospital with our architects, physicians and staff. We’re excited to see some hard-hat work happening outside as well.”
Kellogg stated the hospital is still having discussions with La Porte County EMS as to what will become of the EMS base located near the existing hospital. The base is only three years old.
With the groundbreaking set for late August, Kellogg said the project is on track to still meet their goal of opening in 2020.
“We want to make sure the community understands that we’ll continue to operate the current La Porte Hospital during the construction process. There are a lot of logistics going on in planning that – in terms of parking, construction staging, and many other details. We’ll have updates on that as we move forward," she said.
In a unique opportunity to assist the La Porte City Fire Department with training and skill development, the hospital will allow the fire department access to some of the homes for training before they are demolished.
“We work closely with Pavey Excavating, who is always very good about helping us gain access to structures marked for demolition so we can train on them. But we don’t often have access to residential homes. We will be able to practice ventilation techniques, communication, search and rescue skills, fire hose management, and evacuation techniques,” said Zach Kanney, Training Chief at the La Porte City Fire Department. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us to practice and hone the skills we need to respond and take good care of our community.”
Burning is not part of the training, but fire officials use fog machines to create realistic smoke-like situations during their skill sessions.
After the practice sessions are complete and all the houses are removed, the area will be backfilled, and leveled.
“As a professional, it means a lot to be a part of this important project in La Porte, and it’s great to be able to use our skills to bring creative ideas and innovation to a project of this scale,” said Paul Vincent, office manager at RQAW in La Porte.
Details about the community groundbreaking ceremony in August will be released on newlaportehospital.com, where the community can find updates on the project.
Kellogg stated the groundbreaking ceremony will be a full community event with speakers and refreshments. To stay up on updates, the community can follow La Porte Hospital on Facebook @LaPorteHospital.