In-depth look at the new Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center

The anticipation is building in Mishawaka where a new state of the art health care facility opens on Monday, December 14. While the building is brand new, the mission is not.

When the new location opens, it’s just another chapter in a long history for Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, which has been a part of the Michiana community for more than 125 years.



HISTORY OF A HOSPITAL

Here’s a look at a timeline of the creation of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center:

  • 1841: Sisters of the Holy Cross form in Le Mans, France
  • 1844: Sisters come to South Bend and establish Saint Mary’s College as a school for girls next to what is now the University of Notre Dame, first established for boys in 1842.
  • 1861: 80 of the sisters became Army nurses in the Civil War
  • 1865: Fighting ends and Sisters begin to establish hospitals across the U.S.
  • 1882: Saint Joseph Hospital, the original location, is founded by the Sisters of the Holy Cross. This would become the first facility to care for the sick in South Bend.

Click on the camera icon above to see a photo of the original building from around 1900 and a photo from after the hospital expanded in 1953.

Hospital officials first announced they'd make their move from South Bend to Mishawaka in 2002. They said Mishawaka had become the center of their 11-county service area.

On March 19, 2006, the site was blessed by Bishop John D'Arcy and crews broke ground on the new building on Douglas Rd.

Then in February 2007, crews laid the concrete foundation. Ninety-six loads of concrete came rolling in to kick off the huge project.

In October of that year, construction crews laid the final framework for the new building. The final beam weighed 6500 lbs. The ceremony included a presentation of the flag that will fly at the new hospital, and many employees signed the final beam.

This week, staff members say it’s been a long time coming, but they’re ready to move-in on Monday.

“Everyone has to learn, it’s like learning a new job on that day,” said Jennifer Straw of SJRMC Human Resources. “But we’ve had a lot of orientation, and our associates have been able to come here on site and learn the new technology. So they should be up and running on that first day that they’re here.”

To learn more about Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center’s past, present, and future, click here.


PERKS FOR HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES

Visitors got a chance to tour the new St. Joseph Regional Medical Center on December 6, and while the many members of the community are excited about the opening, so are those employees.

There are just fewer than 2,000 hospital employees who will move into the building on Monday. They've been touring the place, getting used to where departments are located, learning the new technology, and taking in the view of the beautiful building.

There is a new perk for employees that will start soon. It’s called a medical concierge program, where staffers will run errands for the busy workers.

"It's our way of saying thank you and to show our appreciation and to pamper them a little bit too,” said Straw. “It will help provide a better balance between work life and home life... to take care of those errands and tasks that you never have time for."

For example, if an employee needs to get their car in the shop for an oil change, the service will have someone take it in and pick it up for them. If an employee is going to be held up in meetings, the service can have someone pick up dinner for that person’s family so they can grab it on the way out the door. While the employee pays for the oil change and the food, there is no extra charge for the staff that is running the errands.


THE NEW E.R.

When the new ER opens at St. Joseph Medical Center at 7 a.m. on Monday, two others will close simultaneously; those are the South Bend SJRMC ER and the freestanding ER in Mishawka.

WNDU got to tour the emergency room and while it’s not a place people typically want to have to visit, it has a lot of new features.

"First of all you'll be greeted by a nurse,” said Dr. Kurt DeJong, one of the physicians who manages the ER doctors. “You can't help but notice the very large and spacious waiting room. But the whole idea here is that you won't be waiting long, you'll be taken back to the ER right away. We don't want a lot of people sitting in our waiting rooms so we built a lot of capacity here for rooms."

The ER is located in the southwest corner of the hospital. It has its own parking lot and entrance off of a new road called Holy Cross Parkway. The most noticeable change inside, is that its much bigger.

"Our room capacity here is about 30 percent more than the combined capacity of the two hospitals in Mishawaka and South Bend currently,” said DeJong.

DeJong says the workspace for the staff is close to the patients, which should help make day to day tasks even more efficient. For example, there's an X-ray machine located right in the ER and doctors can read it on the computer screen in the workspace. If patients need surgery, it’s on the floor right above the ER. Doctors are hoping a good use of space and technology will save precious time.

Click on the camera icon above to see photos from inside the new ER.


SPIRITUAL CENTER: OUR LADY OF FATIMA CHAPEL

There's not only a lot more space at the new hospital, but there’s also a lot of sacred space too.

St. Joe’s mission has always been centered around faith. So when planners designed the new hospital, they designed a place of worship too. What is called the Spiritual Center is located on the first floor, just past the main entrance on the way to the dining area.

Inside, is the Our Lady of Fatima Chapel. It’s more than a place to pray, it’s a place to heal.

"We know that God heals. We know that for sure,” said Sr. Laureen Painter, VP of Mission Integration. “But it's through human kind as well as nature that God gives us the ability to absorb all of his goodness."

Sister Painter works with the faith programs at the hospital. She says the new location is just a continuation of a mission that started long ago.

"There's a long history that stems back to who knows when in both hospitals, the Mishawaka campus the South Bend campus, and the connection with the sisters and the priests,” Painter said.

Their history is represented in the chapel. The stations of the cross are from the Mishawaka campus, the stained glass windows are from the original hospital chapel in South Bend, and the statue of Mary is believed to be more than 60 years old. She was a gift.

"She was in a nook outside on the campus of the Priests of the Holy Cross,” Painter said. “They just had it sitting there and they said do you want this? We took it we had her refurbished, it is beautiful.”

The stained glass windows date back to 1902, and have been sitting in storage sine the 70’s. They were dusted off and are now on permanent display.

The old mixes well with the new. The altar pieces were handmade by a Holy Cross priest.

"The entire sacred space is dedicated to the wholeness and healing of people,” Painter said. “Whether its mind body or spirit. That's our mission statement.”

Mass is celebrated at the chapel Monday through Friday at noon and Sunday at 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is prayer space in the chapel for other faiths as well. Bishop John D'Arcy blessed the chapel during the public open house on December 6.

Click on the camera icon above to see photos from inside the chapel.


THE MURAL: INDIANA SEASONS

The new Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center cost $355 million to build. It has a more modern look, and a lot of bells and whistles, but there is also something unique that will catch your eye in the dining room.

On the south wall, there is a mural, painted by local artist Anne Munger of Elkhart. Munger says she was honored to be selected to leave her mark on the new hospital.

One special reason why she is so elated to display her work: she’s a cancer survivor. Munger says she is grateful to the doctors and staff at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center and this is her way of giving back.

Her mural is called “Indiana Seasons” and it took her two weeks to finish.

Munger has been painting murals for 15 years. She has her degree from Indiana University.

Click on the camera icon above to see photos of the artist working on the mural.


ON THE MOVE

When Monday morning rolls around, there will be several ambulances lining up at the doors of the Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center’s old South Bend campus.

Beginning at 7 a.m. sharp, about 150 patients will be moved to private rooms at the new facility in Mishawaka using 15 ambulances.

Marsha King is the chief nursing officer, and she’ll be in charge of that move. She says they’re ready to roll on Monday morning.

The route that will be taken to transfer patients is 4.5 miles. It will start from the old location, go to S.R. 23, then to Edison Rd., to Edison Lakes Parkway, to the new Holy Cross Parkway, and finally to the ambulance entrance at the new hospital. King says there is no need for drivers to avoid the area, because the ambulance sirens won’t be on and they will just be part of normal traffic flow.

There will be a patient information line available beginning on Monday so families can check on their loved ones if necessary. That number is (574) 335-5000. You can also get updates on Facebook and Twitter, click here to learn how.

“We also will have a welcome center where families can come and wait until their loved ones get there and then they will be escorted up to their room personally,” King said.


BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER

Construction of the new 658,000 square foot hospital in Mishawaka began in 2007, but it was a concept that had been in the works for years, and there were some key people who helped bring it all together.

Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center CEO Nancy Hellyer says it is neat to see all of their planning for the new location come to reality, but she’s also taken some heat from people in South Bend for moving the hospital away.

“It’s just a little over 4 miles,” Hellyer says. “And the reason why we moved it was this is the only place we could find this much acreage and we needed that to really develop a very efficient facility.”

Hellyer says a common question she gets asked is whether costs are going to go up because of the costs of building a brand new hospital full of new technology. “There have been no changes to our prices. Hospitals look at their prices on an annual basis and we’ll look at our prices on an annual basis,” Hellyer said. “But most of our patients are government plans, Medicare, Medicaid, many of our patients do not pay.” She added that there are TRANSPO routes available to get to the hospital. To learn about those, click here.

Nancy Hellyer has been with SJRMC for about 6 ½ years, but this move is bittersweet for her. She is leaving after the new hospital opens.

Hellyer says the board for SJRMC and Trinity Health are in the middle of a national search for a new CEO.

“For me, it’s going mean a little rest and relaxation, some vacation that I’ve stored up,” Hellyer said. “I’m not quite sure where I’m going but I know it will be somewhere important and I don’t think it can ever be as exciting as this. I’m going to miss the people here just immensely, and this community is just one of the best communities my husband and I have lived in, and if we can, we’d live to stay in the community.”

Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center is thanking the community for its efforts in helping the hospital get built, especially during their "Building Our Future" capital campaign.

To get an interactive look at the new hospital campus, click here.


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