Community leaders reaffirmed the profound role of Wishard Hospital and its connection to Marion County as they joined Wishard officials and an estimated crowd of nearly 300 for the new Wishard groundbreaking on Wednesday.
“This is a moment that truly defines our city and our community,” said Indianapolis Mayor Gregory A. Ballard. “In this moment, we affirm our city’s most cherished values: we recognize health care and compassion for all as priorities in Indianapolis.”
With more than 60 officials and community members lined up along a row of dirt and grasping ceremonial shovels, Mayor Ballard led in turning over a scoop of soil. With that, excavating machines engaged their loud engines and began tearing into the hole behind the fence where the new hospital will stand in less than four years.
“We could not be more grateful to the Indianapolis community for making this day possible, and to Central Indiana’s most thoughtful leaders for their support last summer, and for joining us here today,” said Matthew Gutwein, president and CEO of Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion
County, which operates Wishard. “The New Wishard is for the people of Indianapolis, and we look forward to sharing continued progress with all of you over the next three and a half years.”
The groundbreaking event also served to launch a redesigned Web site, TheNewWishard.org, that will feature news and more details of the project as well as a project webcam for the people of Indianapolis to view the construction as it progresses.
“Today we break ground on the beginning of a new existence, in new facilities, to advance our mission to advocate, care, teach and serve,” said Dr. Lisa Harris, CEO and medical director at Wishard.
“In terms of job creation, of advancing economic development and raising the profile of this city, the new Wishard sets a proud example, and above all, it raises the quality and availability of health care for the people of our community, regardless of income or ability to pay,” said State Rep. Gregory Porter.
Also at the groundbreaking were State Rep. Bill Crawford, City-County Councillor Barbara Malone, Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, Indiana University School of Medicine Dean D. Craig Brater, Health and Hospital Corp. Board Chairman Dr. James Miner and Marion County Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine.
“Our city has come together like never before,” said Rep. Crawfoc=c=d. “From every corner and every nook – to support this one-of-a-kind hospital in a once-in-a-lifetime endeavor to build a new hospital for all of Indianapolis.”
Deborah Daniels of Krieg Devault and John Thompson of Thompson Distribution, who are co-chairs of The New Wishard capital campaign, also participated in the turning of dirt and spoke of project’s importance, as did Brian Payne, president of the Indianapolis Foundation and the Central Indiana Community Foundation, Rev. Richard E. Willoughby, President of the Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis and Senior Pastor at Promise Land Christian Community Church, and Fifth Third Bank Senior Vice President Kevin Hipskind, who experienced first-hand Wishard’s life-saving impact when he was severely burned in an accident at his north side home.
“It’s pretty telling that just six months after the historic election, where voters overwhelmingly approved a new Wishard, we’re breaking ground ceremoniously outside the site fence here while thousands of hours of work have already been done inside the fence,” said Councillor Malone, chair of the Municipal Corporations Committee.
The project was approved during the Nov. 3, 2009 referendum election, in which an overwhelming 85 percent of Marion County voters approved the new facilities.
The New Wishard will open at the end of 2013 with a 315-bed inpatient hospital, a 200-bed outpatient clinic, a 2,400-car parking garage, a 90-bed treatment room emergency department, a women’s health clinic, a central energy plant and offices for faculty, research and administration functions. The project also will create 4,400 jobs and will transform the landscape of health care in Indianapolis.