Memorial associates, providers, provide valuable insight in planning process


The realities and limitations of the aging patient care towers at Memorial Hospital started a movement to make a change for the better. A big change.

“We need to have facilities that complement our extraordinarily talented people to provide services that nobody else can provide,” said Larry Tracy, President, Memorial Hospital. “The new patient bed tower and renewal of our inpatient campus is a once-in-a-generation endeavor, a transformational project for Memorial and Beacon Health System that will positively impact and complement the work our teams provide for the next 70 to 100 years.”

Beginning in 2019, Beacon Health System and Memorial Hospital leaders assessed over 1 million square feet of existing space at the hospital and conducted tours and interviews with staff and providers from more than a dozen departments. Information from patient satisfaction surveys revealed more about what was on the hearts and minds of members of our community.

“We came up with a lot of possible scenarios for building a new facility, and ultimately we decided that staying and investing in South Bend was the best option for Beacon,” Tracy said. “This project allows us to live our mission and expand the level of care we’re able to provide while keeping the needs of our customers at the forefront.

The 10-story, $232 million inpatient tower will also comprise other facility upgrades across the Memorial Hospital campus.

While the project might seem like a story simply about bricks and mortar, blueprints and steel, the real story is about creating a new home to support the incredible work of our caregivers.

“Our caregivers have helped to design all the spaces, down to where the electrical outlets are located in the rooms,” said Sarah Paturalski, MBA/MSN, RN, Vice President, Nursing and Patient Care Services at Memorial.

“What’s exciting is that we’re not only increasing the number of beds in the hospital to be able to care for more patients, we’re leveling up our critical and intermediate care capabilities at the same time,” Paturalski said. “This tower project is a great opportunity to match our exceptional clinical care with an exceptional facility.”

The clinical care teams at Memorial Hospital provide some of the highest levels of care for trauma and emergency patients, stroke patients, high-risk mothers and babies, and individuals needing complex care for medical or surgical reasons, in the region.

“There is a lack of critical care beds in the state,” Paturalski said. “Memorial Hospital is the regional referral center for 30 surrounding counties, and most patients coming to us from those communities need a critical care bed. Having more beds onsite means we can better meet the needs of our community and region.”

Staff and physician input has been vital to the bed tower project, said Tomas Howard, the service line project lead at Memorial Hospital.

“We approve 99 percent of their ideas,” Howard said. “Our teams are passionate about describing how current elements of the hospital do or don’t work and how that affects the level of care they want to provide.”

Some ideas — like having access to the outdoors and plenty of natural light streaming into the building — were common themes mentioned time after time by staff members. Other ideas and decisions couldn’t have been predicted, like where the paper towel holders should go and which direction the patient bathroom doors should swing.

“Everyone cared deeply about these things and the default answer was always, ‘Yes!’” Paturalski said. “Tell us where it should go and we’ll do it.”

This attention to detail combined with the latest technology and equipment available will support Memorial’s teams in their exceptional care of patients.

“It wasn’t a bunch of ‘suits’ who made the decisions, it was people who wear scrubs and touch our patients who made those choices,” Tracy said. “This will be a unique opportunity to put our fingerprints on the delivery of patient care at Memorial for generations to come. We are building for our future.”

Hear firsthand from some of our clinical team members as they describe how the new tower will benefit patients, visitors and staff.

Additional project highlights:

  • More intensive care and medical/surgical beds to take care of a growing number of patients who need high levels of care not available elsewhere.
  • Larger, quieter patient rooms with individual climate controls, sound-dampening finishes and remote alarms.
  • Dedicated space for families and visitors.
  • Improved wayfinding and a central elevator bank.