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IU Health Bloomington changes course on hospital relocation

  • April 15, 2015

Editor's note: This story from The Bloomington Herald-Times is being published here as a courtesy for readers of IU in the News.
By Lauren Slavin

IU Health Bloomington Hospital will build a new campus off the Ind. 45/46 Bypass next to the Indiana University Golf Course, officials announced in a news conference this morning.

The new hospital will be part of a partnership with IU that will boost the university's growing health sciences and technology sectors.

The new in-patient hospital, as well as an ambulatory center, will be built on 75 acres off the bypass at the current location of the IU golf driving range, according to IU Health and university officials. The 18-hole championship golf course will not be affected by the construction of the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital. The driving range will be moved to the par 3 course, which currently is adjacent to the driving range.

IU plans to build a new medical education building next to the hospital, to allow current health programs and academic research can relocate and expand in collaboration with the hospital.

Additional information was provided at a 9 a.m. news conference, which hospital officials, Mayor Mark Kruzan and IU President Michael McRobbie attended.

“There are not too many across the country. You’re either a complete academic health center, or down here with a community hospital or regional hospital. We’re kind of meeting in the middle,” Mark Moore, president of IU Health Bloomington, said in a briefing with the H-T. “It’s more than just co-locating buildings. It’s truly coming together in a way that we never could have done by ourselves.”

The announcement comes two months after the IU Health system board of directors determined that constructing a replacement hospital at the Bloomington location on West Second Street would cost more money and take more time than building a new facility from the ground up. IU Health Bloomington owns 85 acres off of Curry Park in a development called North Park, and that property was speculated to be where the hospital would move. IU Health Bloomington officials never confirmed any prospective locations for the new facility until today.

After the hospital made an official decision in mid-February to move, Kruzan created a steering committee to recommend future use of the Second Street hospital once IU Health Bloomington relocates. The committee, chaired by former state senator, Indiana Senate minority leader and Monroe County auditor Vi Simpson, has yet to meet.

Moore said IU Health is committed to working with the committee and the city.

“Our commitment has always been not to leave an abandoned building or something in disarray, but to work, truly, on a win-win situation,” Moore said. “None of that changes, whether we’re going to North Park or, right now, this site.”

The IU Health system is a statewide network of more than 20 hospitals, 2,000 physicians, and inpatient and outpatient clinical service providers. IU Health and Indiana University’s School of Medicine in Indianapolis currently work in conjunction to provide physician training, clinical services and research.

McRobbie is also a member of the IU Health system board of directors. As the Bloomington Hospital board analyzed options for its new location, Moore said, a partnership with the university became the most logical solution.

“When parties see a vision and get excited, it moves pretty quickly,” Moore said. “It was almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to seize hold of something.”

IU Health Bloomington and the university have a memorandum of understanding that the hospital will be built on university property, with lease prices still to be negotiated, according to university spokesman Mark Land. The hospital will be responsible for its construction costs, and the university will pay for its educational buildings.

As a regional academic health campus, the hospital and university hope to offer students additional opportunities to work alongside professionals in their fields of study. The university will also be able to expand its current and future academic offerings into the new medical education building.

“We have a lot of health science programming on the campus, and sometimes it gets lost a little bit in the scope of everything else that goes on,” Land said. “When you consider nursing, speech and hearing therapy, the optometry school … and a lot of them are currently a little strapped for space and facilities.”

Building the hospital on university land also removes any zoning issues, and allows the university to serve as the landlord for businesses and additional medical facilities a hospital could attract.

“There is room to grow,” Land said. “We’re prepared to work good deals with other folks as they chose to want to locate out there.”