NewsHealth / April 16, 2018

Indiana University Health Prepares For $1B Consolidation

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana University Heath officials are considering whether to save any of the century-old sections of the state's largest hospital as they prepare for a planned $1 billion consolidation project.

A major overhaul is expected of the 589-bed Methodist Hospital near downtown Indianapolis. IU Health's plan calls for closing the nearby University Hospital and consolidating clinical operations into expanded facilities at Methodist and Riley Hospital for Children.

"We are absolutely arriving at a set of options which we will be able to articulate in a more defined master plan late this year," said Dr. Ryan Nagy, president of Methodist and University hospitals.

Officials are evaluating which buildings on the Methodist campus should be renovated, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported . Many of the buildings have mismatched floor plates, uneven ceilings and a conglomeration of electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems.

Trying to update the existing infrastructure can be a challenge, said Timothy Frank, a partner at Artekna, an Indianapolis-based design and architecture firm specializing in health care.

"It's very complicated to renovate an old hospital, and often not worth the effort," Frank said.

About a third of the campus can likely be saved and updated, said Monte Hoover, the senior director of health care planning for engineering firm BSA LifeStructures. Some of those buildings are less than 40 years old.

Trying to save Methodist Hospital "in its entirety would be a massive undertaking, Hoover said.

The main goal of the redesign is to deliver care more effectively and give patients more value, Nagy said. Combining hospitals will eliminate duplicated function and could build in flexibility to allow the hospital to adapt to future changes in the health care system.

"This was always meant to be a campus structure in which we could build new and renovate and update accordingly," Nagy said.

The newest buildings at Methodist — those that went up in the 1990s, including a 10-story patient tower — are still in good shape mechanically and architecturally, and are likely to stay.

"It has a lot of life left in it," said Jim Mladucky, IU Health's vice president for design and construction.

IU Health is still struggling to fill beds at its 15 hospitals across the state. Its occupancy rate was just 67.6 percent last year.

Methodist Hospital now has 589 beds, and University Hospital has 328. By moving all its clinical operations from University to Methodist, the system says it plans "a slight increase" in total beds on the Methodist campus.

IU Health has been making other changes to its downtown Indianapolis setup. In 2014, the emergency room at University Hospital on the IUPUI campus closed and merged into the ER at Methodist.

Last December, the IU Health board gave approval for Riley Hospital for Children to start a $142 million project renovating four floors into a new maternity and newborn health unit. The project is set to be completed by 2020.

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