As you may know, Marion County provides health care through Wishard Hospital and the Health and Hospital Corporation (HHC). This is a 150-year tradition that began with the creation of City Hospital in 1859. IUPUI and our health schools are partners with Wishard, so the proposal by HHC to build a new Wishard Hospital is very important to us.
Under recent state law, the voters of Marion County must approve a referendum at the November 3rd special election that allows Health and Hospital Corporation to borrow money via municipal bonds to build the new hospital.
What is being proposed?
An entirely new Wishard Hospital—including in-patient, out-patient, and emergency services, plus parking and office—would be built on the west side of the IUPUI campus. This facility would replace more than 15 buildings, averaging 61.2 years of age. The hospital would actually be smaller than the current one, but would be more efficiently designed, more energy efficient, and most importantly better designed for the highest standards of contemporary medical care.
Why is this being proposed now?
HHC has conducted a thorough review of its facilities and the options for replacement. There is a great deal you can read about this analysis at WishardFacts.org, however, the short version is the current facilities simply cannot serve into the future. Wishard spends more than $25 million per year to maintain their deteriorating facilities.
The option of a new hospital on the IUPUI campus was selected over three alternatives: no new construction and eventually closing Wishard, remodeling the current facilities in steps over many years, or building a new hospital away from IUPUI.
The option chosen will create a new state-of-the-art facility quickly—and at much lower cost, because of the current construction and financing market. Most importantly, a new Wishard Hospital will both maintain the valuable proximity of Wishard to IUPUI and provide enhanced services to the 20,000 patients admitted annually.
What does this mean for IUPUI?
For our health schools, a new Wishard Hospital on the IUPUI campus would assure the continuation of our long-standing educational partnerships. Nearly 1,100 physicians practice at Wishard Hospital, 99 percent of whom are School of Medicine faculty members. Wishard operates Indiana's largest ambulance service, busiest emergency room (over 111,000 visits last year), largest adult burn unit, the only emergency psychiatric care, and one of only two adult Level I Trauma Centers.
Wishard is our major teaching hospital. It offers clinical practice and field instruction sites for students in our Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and Social Work as well as the Regenstrief Institute for Health Care and Purdue University School of Pharmacy.
The proposal for a new Wishard Hospital also involves a land swap.
HHC will swap their land and current facilities on the north side of IUPUI for land on the west side of campus, including the now-boarded-up Larue Carter Hospital and State Board of Public Health Building, plus three other IUPUI buildings: the Union, Psychiatric Research, and Campus Facilities Services. The exchange will be phased over several years as the new hospital is built. Planning is under way to find new homes for the occupants of the IUPUI buildings, including the possible reuse of the newer of the existing Wishard facilities.
Marion County voters must approve a referendum to allow public bonds to be issued for the new hospital on the November 3 election ballot.
That will allow Wishard to borrow $613 million over 30 years to finance the new hospital without a tax increase. Absentee and early voting has begun at the Marion County Clerk's Office, which will open three satellite offices beginning October 24th, including one near campus at the HealthPlex on 860 W. 10th Street.
For more information on the proposal, see WishardFacts.org. For voter information, see the Marion County Clerk's Office.
I encourage you to review the materials and consider casting a "yes" ballot in favor of Wishard's new hospital.
Charles R. Bantz