Indianapolis Construction Update

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chat addresses your questions about Indianapolis construction, Beech Grove campus

Welcome to the first St. Francis online chat with Chief Operating Officer Keith Jewell. Keith will answer your questions about the Indianapolis construction project and the possible future uses of St. Francis Hospital-Beech Grove after medical services are consolidated at the Indianapolis campus in early 2011. The chat will continue until 1 p.m.

As a reminder, this chat session is a real conversation. For this reason, you should observe the same etiquette in the chat session as you would in day-to-day conversation.If you are new to using this site, to post a comment or question, please click on the link that says “Comments.”

Due to the anticipated number of questions and comments posted, there may be a small delay between the time your question is submitted and the time it is viewable on the blog.

Guidelines for posting comments

  • Please keep comments and questions civil. We will not accept insulting groups or individuals.

  • Reporters who visit the site and want to pose questions are asked to identify themselves and their news organizations.

  • St. Francis cannot comment on official business on the part of the cities of Indianapolis, Beech Grove or Greenwood, nor on the Beech Grove Redevelopment Commission. We have extended an invitation to Beech Grove Mayor Joe Wright, who is out of town but at this time is planning to be available on the blog to answer questions relating to the city’s role in the Beech Grove campus redevelopment.

  • If you have comments or concerns regarding your patient experience at St. Francis, please complete this form to reach our Service Excellence department.


Keith Jewell said...

Good afternoon. My name is Keith Jewell and I am chief operating officer with St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers. I want to thank you for visiting this on-line conversation today. I am here to answer any questions you might have about our ongoing construction project at our Indianapolis campus at Emerson Avenue and Stop 11 Road.

If you are with the news media, I would ask that you share with me your name and news organization before posting a question.

As you might be aware, in 2007 we announced an ambitious plan to consolidate our inpatient and other services at our Indianapolis campus. We hope to accomplish the overall project by early 2011. The consolidation also means we will be migrating those services from our Beech Grove facility to the Indianapolis campus.

For 95 years, St. Francis has been a large part of the Beech Grove community -- and we will continue to maintain a presence there after the consolidation is complete.

Some of you might have some questions more specifically related to the City of Beech Grove and its plans. I have invited Mayor Joe Wright to sit in on today’s chat and respond if appropriate.

Your views are important to us and that is why St. Francis is hosting today’s chat. Again, I welcome you to this site and look forward to your questions.

Keith Jewell said...

We received a question through the Web site earlier today from Kevin in Greenwood, who is concerned about the safety of Emerson Avenue north of County Line Road. Kevin would like to know what St. Francis is doing to proactively address traffic concerns in the area.

Kevin, thank you for your question. St. Francis Hospital is acutely aware of the traffic problems on Emerson Avenue, but the hospital has very little control over issues related to public streets and roadways. The hospital did, in working with the City of Indianapolis, install two traffic lights this year to facilitate access to and from our Indianapolis campus.

According to the City of Indianapolis’ Web site, the expansion of South Emerson Avenue from Interstate 65 to Shelbyville Road to five lanes is in its initial stages. Construction is estimated to start in 2011 and end the following year. You can read more about this project on the city’s Web site,

In addition, the Marion County Highway Department and the Indiana Department of Transportation have proposed widening Emerson Avenue so it remains at least four lanes from Interstate 465 to County Line Road. Our understanding is that the project is scheduled for 2015 and is dependent on receipt of both state and federal funding.

The fact that Emerson Avenue goes over the top of I-65 is a complicating factor. That bridge must be rebuilt and widened to four lanes.

All of us can, at any time, lobby our City County Council members about issues such as this. St. Francis contacted both the Perry Township and Franklin Township council members more than a year ago about traffic problems on Emerson Avenue. We also have lobbied for the widening project to be started sooner than 2015. I encourage anyone who lives in those townships to do the same.

Keith Jewell said...

We have received a question through the Web site from Dayton in Indianapolis, who would like to know more about our plans for a hyperbaric chamber.

Dayton, thank you for your question.

We are looking at the Pan-America Hyperbaric Tank, which is a 32-inch diameter and 86.6-inch length hyperbaric chamber. Some of the conditions that can be treated with the unit include gas gangrene, soft tissue infections, skin grafts, problem wounds that are not responding to typical treatment (that accounts for about 12% of our patients), and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Unless a decision is made to begin the service in Beech Grove, it is currently slated to open in the first phase of the Indianapolis construction in 2010.

Edie said...

Will all of the services at the Beech Grove campus be available at the Indianapolis Campus?

Keith Jewell said...

Edie, thank you for your question.

We intend for all services available at the Beech Grove to relocate to the Indianapolis campus.

In addition, St. Francis has a nearly century-long tradition of serving the people of Beech Grove and of being a member of the community. And we will continue our long-term commitment by providing a range of substantial outpatient services, potentially including laboratory services, physical therapy and imaging. Currently, 90 percent of all patients at our Beech Grove facility receive an outpatient service.

Sharon said...

We had a family member admitted for cardiac services this past week at the Emerson hospital. His nurse told him that St. Vincent Hospital wants to purchase the hospital after the construction is completed so they can establish a hospital on the south side on Indy. Is it possible St Francis may sell out?

Keith Jewell said...

Sharon, thank you for your question.

The short answer is no, the Sisters of St. Francis Health Services have no intention of selling St. Francis Hospital-Indianapolis or St. Francis-Mooresville.

We are part of a 13-hospital system serving Indiana and Illinois, with more than 100 years of serving Hoosiers with their health care needs.We are committed to continuing our health care ministry in Indiana and Illinois.

Keith Jewell said...

One of the questions I often receive from people is when the new building will open.

In early 2010, the new Emergency Department will move into its new space on the first floor of the new bed tower. The cafeteria will relocate to the second floor of the patient bed tower.

From there, work on the third through sixth floors on the patient tower will continue and the previous Emergency Department and cafeteria spaces will be renovated for other services.

All construction is expected to be complete in 2011.

Scarlett said...

Keith, what impact has the sluggish economy had on the hospital?

Keith Jewell said...

Another question I hear from people is how is St. Francis going green.

We are including several "green" ideas in construction of the new Bed Tower at Indianapolis. Some of the things we are doing include:

• Rooftop gardens that are planned in such a way as to reduce energy for cooling.
• Central chillers have been specified as high efficiency units.
• We are using high efficiency T5 lighting as well as LED Exit signs and LED Surgery lights.
• Select areas have occupancy sensors for lighting.
• "Clean" steam (no chemicals) is used to humidify the building.
• Plumbing fixtures are low water consumption units.
• Storm water is collected in retention ponds and reused for irrigation.

Keith Jewell said...


The economic crisis we are experiencing in the country is having a serious impact on almost every company in our nation. Hospitals have traditionally been more recession-proof than other organizations, but we are entering new territory.

St. Francis has a strong foundation thanks to sound financial planning by our organization. This helps protect us from some of the most negative effects of this economic downturn.

As always, our priority is to provide the highest level of quality care for our patients and we will continue to do so.

Welcome19 said...

How is the process of the Beech Grove sale going?

Anonymous said...

Why can't you renovate or expand the Beech Grove campus to meet your needs?

Keith Jewell said...

Hi Welcome19, and thanks for your question. St. Francis has been in discussions with a California-based developer. At this time, we’re bound by a confidentiality agreement and we cannot give any specifics about our discussions.

If all goes well we may reach an agreement sometime in the first quarter of 2009.

St. Francis will continue to occupy portions of the Beech Grove property until our inpatient services are fully relocated to the Indianapolis campus is 2011.

Keith Jewell said...

Stacey, thank you for your question.

The Beech Grove campus is housed in an aging building – parts are more than 70 years old – which makes it logistically difficult to keep with today’s evolving technology.

Additionally, the campus is land-locked by businesses and residences. Attempts to purchase additional land from our neighbors failed in the 1980s and as late as before our Heart Center’s opening in 2005.

In the late 1980s, St. Francis explored options for future growth, which included expanding the Beech Grove campus. As that option was met with resistance from the greater Beech Grove community, the Sisters looked to the south, purchasing the land the Indianapolis campus sits on in 1990. Early plans included development of the site from an outpatient-only facility to a full-service hospital by 2015.

By consolidating operations at the Indianapolis campus, St. Francis eliminates duplication of services and contains health care costs as much as possible while maintaining compassionate, quality health care. This is even more essential during these challenging economic times. St. Francis Hospital—Indianapolis is only seven miles from Beech Grove and still will be the most convenient location for Beech Grove residents to receive health services.

Keith Jewell said...

I would like to thank you for taking the time from your lunch hour and day to participate in this discussion about St. Francis’ ongoing project and the future of health care in the greater Indianapolis area. We truly believe we are building your health care future.

We will plan on another chat in the future. In the meantime, if you have questions about our construction, you can e-mail us through our Web site at, or visit our construction blog at