By Leigh Morris
Heads wiser than mine have determined that we need to build a replacement structure for LaPorte Hospital. I hope that is both necessary and cost effective as compared to
updating the current complex and enhancing the programs and services it provides. However, I’d like to set that question aside for the moment and focus instead on the question of where that new hospital structure would be located.
In my opinion, there are compelling reasons why the hospital should be exactly where it is — in the middle of downtown LaPorte. It is visible, accessible, and is surrounded by essential support services. Parking is less than optimal, but that could easily be corrected with the updating process. I’ve heard the opinion that there may not be sufficient land, but that should be challenged.
This may well be the best opportunity we have to address three key priorities:
— We need to capitalize on the investment already made and help make sure that available resources are devoted to assuring that the people of this area have access to the finest — and most affordable — healthcare we can provide. Keeping the hospital in its present location will enable continued use of very extensive and expensive gas, electricity, water and sewer utilities and support facilities such as the new Emergency Medical Service building, Founders Square, Heritage Place and The Crossing. Every dollar saved by avoiding unnecessary investment in bricks and mortar could be utilized to assure that our physicians, nurses and staff are empowered and equipped to provide care that is unequaled by any other community hospital.
— Downtown LaPorte needs all the help it can get in continuing to be a viable and attractive city center. The hospital brings hundreds of people to downtown every day of the week.
— The post office desperately needs updating and relocating. Doing so would provide additional space for hospital expansion and provide a post office with adequate access, parking, and drop-off mail boxes that aren’t in the middle of a city street. The current building is seriously outdated and in need of significant investment if it is continued in use.
There’s probably no stronger stronger advocate for development of NewPorte Landing than myself. While some have urged that a new hospital be built there, congestion along Pine Lake Avenue — particularly its intersection with Weller and Truesdell avenues alone — makes that problematic. Also consider soil stability and compatibility with major commercial development.
Although the hospital is now owned by a for-profit company, I believe the new owners want to be responsive to the community’s needs and preferences. I’d encourage anyone who has opinions about the need for a new hospital and the most appropriate location for it to express them to the Interim CEO, LaPorte Hospital, P.O. Box 250, LaPorte, IN 46352-0250, as soon as possible. The clock is ticking on the decision-making process.
LEIGH MORRIS is former president and CEO of LaPorte Hospital and former mayor of LaPorte.