Just more than two years after 85 percent of Marion County voters approved the project; and just two years before it opens in December 2013 – ironworkers and local construction crews installed the final steel beam at the top of the new Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and Eskenazi Health facilities in downtown Indianapolis on Thursday.

The Eskenazi Health project is on time and under budget. We are on schedule for completion in December 2013 and now officially at its final height," said Matthew R. Gutwein, president and CEO of Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County. "We have reached this milestone rapidly and responsibly in the construction process, exceeding participation goals for businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans and persons with disabilities. More than 90 percent of our contractors are local. We look forward to completing the project and opening the new Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital in less than two years."

Wishard and the Eskenazi Health Foundation – formerly the Wishard Foundation – held a ceremony to commemorate the milestone. 

"Today we celebrate another step toward opening the doors of the new Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and further improving health care in Indianapolis for decades to come," said Mayor Gregory A. Ballard. “This project continues to be a significant achievement for our community and our city.” 

A 310-foot-tall blue tower crane lifted the 11-foot, 6-inch long, 161-pound steel I-beam up to its perch nearly 280 feet above the ground at the site located just west of the current Wishard facilities. 

"We aren’t just raising steel today," said Councillor Maggie Lewis. "We are raising accessibility to excellent quality health care for the people of our community. We are raising the standards for health care in Indianapolis. And we are raising the bar for public hospitals. This is a great day for Wishard, Eskenazi Health and the people of Marion County." 

Hundreds of individuals throughout the community, including Sidney and Lois Eskenazi, numerous donors, Wishard employees and physicians, community leaders and hospital supporters signed the beam in the weeks preceding the ceremony. The beam was available for Wishard employees, physicians and members of the public to sign in the Sunshine Hallway at Wishard from December 9-12 and at City Market from December 13-17. 

"From the leaders and voters who supported a new Wishard in 2009, to all whom have spoken and acted for this hospital and the health of our community since – including an overwhelming wave of support from the philanthropic community led by Sidney and Lois Eskenazi’s record $40 million gift – we are sincerely grateful and appreciative," said Ernest Vargo II, CFRE, president and CEO of the Eskenazi Health Foundation. 

On December 9, 2011, Wishard also started the 2011 Report to Our Community informational program to provide an update on the project. The Report to Our Community began with a presentation to hospital employees and will continue in public meetings and gatherings over the next several weeks. 

"In each name, the beam we raise today holds the heart and soul of Wishard, Eskenazi Health, Indianapolis and Central Indiana – our community," said Dr. Lisa Harris, CEO and medical director at Wishard Health Services, which will become Eskenazi Health. "Today, we celebrate the topping off of the new Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and the spirit and commitment of our people, of the individuals in our community, the individuals who work in this hospital and on this jobsite and throughout Indiana. We are deeply grateful for all of the support we receive." 

As the structural steel tops out, Wishard has executed more than $386 million in construction contracts. The project continues to be on plan to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. 

"The topping off ceremony is a tradition for building trades and iron workers, a symbol of both the progress on the project itself and the pride and spirit of community and cooperation we hold as American workers and Hoosiers building a new hospital for the people of Indianapolis and all who come here to receive excellent quality care," said Tom Harmon of Harmon Steel, a city- and state-certified minority-owned business enterprise. 

The steel beam is placed at the top of the 12th level of the hospital tower. On the south end of the jobsite, the parking garage is already in use. 

"On behalf of Fifth Third Bank and Fifth Third Foundation, we are so excited about the topping off of the new Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and the progress being made and symbolized here today," said Nancy Huber, President and CEO of Fifth Third Bank, Central Indiana. “Like so many of the contributors to the Eskenazi Health Capital Campaign, we are thankful for the opportunity to support Wishard and Eskenazi Health, and we are grateful for all this hospital does for the people of our community." 

Fifth Third Bank and Fifth Third Foundation provided a $5 million gift for the Eskenazi Health Capital Campaign. 

The project to construct a new Wishard is creating 4,400 jobs and will transform the landscape of health care in Indianapolis. 

Visit www.EskenaziHealth.org to learn more about the project, and visit www.EskenaziHealthFoundation.org to learn more about the capital campaign and ongoing fundraising. For more information about Wishard Health Services, visit www.Wishard.edu.

Contact: Michelle O'Keefe
Phone: (317) 630-6863
Pager: (317) 310-5972