As Parkview Field continues to draw in visitors and mixed-use building The Harrison continues to take shape, it's easy to see a brighter future for downtown Fort Wayne.
That's because, just as importantly, existing franchises are embracing their own redevelopments, as well … and one downtown mainstay, St. Joseph Hospital, has long been ensuring its future while respecting its history.
“We like to say that we were investing in downtown before that was the popular thing to do,” said Geoff Thomas, public relations supervisor for Lutheran Health Network, the parent network for St. Joseph.
To that end, Chief Operating Officer John P. Walsh and Thomas detailed many improvements and investments made at the venerable hospital, which is located at the intersection of Broadway and Main Street.
Some of those are:
*At a cost of $5.5 million, a renovation and expansion of the emergency department was completed in 2003.
*At a cost of $1.8 million, the Birthplace at St. Joseph was renovated and expanded during 2004 and 2005.
*At a cost of $6 million, the Regional Burn Center as well as the Burn and Wound Clinic moved from the fifth floor to the second floor, which was expanded and renovated.
That was finished in August 2008.
*The $7 million medical office building opened in September 2008. It added 29,000 square feet to the existing-and-renovated 36,000-square-foot office building, completely transforming the look of the medical facility. The Fort Wayne Medical Education Program then relocated there to that location from Lake Avenue.
*A 2009 renovation to the Intensive Care Unit cost $750,000.
*The cardiac catheterization lab got $1.6 million in equipment and upgrades in 2010.
*And finally, St. Joseph is currently upgrading all its data cable in the facility – think Internet, phones, data storage – at a cost of $1.2 million.
Walsh said those investments have added obvious value to the community, and for the right reasons.
“I think it's a combination of doing what's right and listening to the voice of the customer,” Walsh said. “Just because the outside of the building is older, has history, doesn't mean the inside can't be state-of-the art, in many ways.
“I think that invigorates the people here,” Walsh added. “We're going to continue to invest. We're in the planning stages for even more things.”
Thomas and Walsh both acknowledged the thought process that allows for concluding that if a facility is upgrading, then it could just as easily build in a new location. But both cautioned that line of thinking isn't that simple, considering St. Joseph and the Lutheran Health Network actually want to serve downtown neighborhoods and residents, as it always has.
“It is not easy to maintain an older building, that's true, but that's where the people are,” Thomas said.
“It would be easy to simply say, 'Let's move,' but we want to be here,” Walsh said. “We see that as our obligation, and that's what we'll continue to do.”
Also, both men explained that since St. Joseph is part of the Lutheran Health Network, personnel rotate throughout the locations locally – meaning that the quality of care is maintained throughout.
“People can then say, 'Oh, these are the same doctors,'” Walsh said. “We can provide the same services here that Lutheran provides at its campus.”
“We have lots of collaboration,” Thomas said. “As you look at what we've done with the current facility, we can offer a number of services, and at a high standard.”