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DeKalb Health officials say the renovations, shown in an artist’s rendering, will improve patient care and access.

DeKalb Health expanding site

Foundation donates $1 million

Price

A nearly $7 million construction project at DeKalb Health will result in a more streamlined operation for patients and the medical staff, officials said.

Plans to renovate about 30,000 square feet of space on the north side of the 26-acre hospital campus were announced Wednesday during a “demo party” to celebrate the construction that began a little over a month ago at the Auburn facility.

Once the work is complete, more dedicated spaces and amenities will accommodate DeKalb Health’s growing therapy and business health services, as well as house an enhanced presence for Fort Wayne Orthopedics.

“By streamlining, we should realize some cost savings while improving patient access,” DeKalb Health CEO Fred Price said.

A $1 million donation to the project from the DeKalb Health Foundation also was announced Wednesday.

The hospital said its design-build team, along with select community members, worked together to address the needs for Auburn.

Founded in 1964, the former DeKalb Memorial Hospital underwent a rebranding in 2011 to project a more cosmopolitan image to patients.

The hospital became DeKalb Health, complete with a new logo and a mission that plays up services including sports medicine, wellness and specialty programs, and family practices.

Price said despite making operations more efficient, the project will not result in any layoffs at the hospital, which employs more than 600. The 47-bed, nonprofit independent medical center had more than 350,000 patient visits last year.

A Ball State University study in 2012 gauged the perceptions of area business and school leaders, farmers and other residents. The $15,000 report was commissioned by DeKalb Health to gain insight into community needs and concerns.

Survey participants were pleased with the care they receive at DeKalb Health, but many felt it has become a “confusing mix of twisting corridors, entrances and parking areas,” according to the Ball State report.

While this renovation will address similar issues, Price said the construction project isn’t the result of the Ball State study.

The renovated space will have 11,127 square feet dedicated to new physical therapy services; 3,300 square feet to house DeKalb Business Health, more than tripling its current footprint; and 5,500 square feet for Fort Wayne Orthopedics, which will help the hospital better serve an increasing number of patients with those needs. Officials expect the work to be finished by April.

“This project continues the vision of those who contributed to and built DeKalb Health some 50 years ago,” said Rick James, president of the DeKalb Health Foundation.

“Our current Foundation supporters understand that we must continually improve DeKalb Health for our community,” he said in a statement. “It’s our hospital. It’s our legacy to make available world-class health care right here at home.”

pwyche@jg.net

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