Johnson Memorial plans $42M expansion to keep up with growth

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FRANKLIN, Ind. – Johnson Memorial Hospital is planning a $42 million expansion which will include doubling the size of its current emergency room on its Franklin campus.

Johnson Memorial Hospital President and CEO, Larry Heydon said the expansion will help the hospital keep up with Johnson County’s growing population.

“Right now we’re facing capacity concerns,” Heydon said. “We’re facing just an aged facility that doesn’t serve us well to meet those needs.”

Johnson County’s population has grown more than 20 percent since 2000. Hospital officials say the current ER is not having to turn patients away now, but there are days when it’s very crowded. If the county’s population growth follows current projections, there is concern that the ER could reach capacity, forcing patients to be diverted to other facilities. The planned expansion is meant to keep that from happening.

The ER expansion will not change the type of emergency care provided by JMH. Severely injured patients requiring treatment at a Level 1 trauma center will still have to be transported to more advanced facilities like those in Indianapolis.

“There are certain services that will continue to have to be done outside Johnson Memorial Health, outside our system,” Heydon said. “Whether it’s head trauma, neonatal care, open heart procedures, those advanced services are not part of our future. It’s more about trying to better meet our core services we currently provide.”

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According to plans released by JMH, the expansion will begin with the demolition of the building’s oldest section, which was built in 1947. That demolition will begin next summer. The entire project is expected to be completed in 2020. Indianapolis-based design firm Cripe will oversee architecture and engineering requirements.

New construction will include a new 17,400 square foot emergency department on the southeast side of the campus, which will also include a new ambulance bay. Construction will also include a new 33,000 square foot facility to house radiology, laboratory and other outpatient services. A 20,400 square foot rehabilitation facility will be built on the west side of the campus, which is currently undeveloped. The rehabilitation areas will house facilities for physical, occupational and speech therapy areas. The second floor of the new addition will include a wellness suite and other services.

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In addition to expansion, much of the project focuses on modernization of medical services. More emphasis will be placed on outpatient care. Heydon said this reflects the modern state of medicine, where many outpatient procedures of today required overnight stays when the hospital was built in 1947.

“I’m sure each of us have a relative, we can go back and talk to them and is now outpatient based was inpatient many years back,” Heydon said.

The $42 million plan, approved by the Johnson Memorial Health Board of Trustees, would not use any local or county tax dollars. Heydon said the bulk of the funding will come from savings the county-owned hospital has accumulated.

A press release announcing the project included the following statement from Franklin Mayor, Joe McGuinness:

“Johnson Memorial Hospital is a community asset and we are thrilled the JMH Board of Trustees is willing to make this kind of investment in our community,” said Franklin mayor Joe McGuinness. “Having a vital and robust healthcare system is critical in attracting new businesses and residents to Franklin and surrounding communities.”

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