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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Angelus Bell honors St. Francis Health heritage, rings in new era of care

INDIANAPOLIS – Surrounded by representatives of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, the Angelus Bell rang three times. Each ring echoed the Sisters’ medical ministry, which began in Beech Grove in 1914. And each ring heralded their continued commitment of embracing the future of providing health care to patients in central Indiana.

That poignant moment was a part of Franciscan St. Francis Health’s blessing and dedication ceremony of its Indianapolis Campus Expansion (ICE) project at 8111 S. Emerson Avenue. The April 5 event brought together the leadership of Franciscan St. Francis Health, Franciscan Alliance, Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the community officials.

“This is a special day, not just because we are celebrating the first phase of the opening of a new, state-of-the-art patient tower – but because we are setting a new standard of high-quality medical care for our patients and the communities we serve,” said Robert J. Brody, president and CEO for St. Francis Health.

It marked the completion of Phase I of ICE (basement and first two levels), which includes a new and larger emergency department, featuring 63 exam rooms arranged in strategic “pods” designed to provide more personalized care to patients. An imaging area and lab services also are located within the emergency department.

The current emergency room is scheduled to move from its existing location to the east side of the campus on April 13. On that date, too, 10 new surgical suites will be ready for patients, as will Wound Care Institute, nursing administration and Spiritual Care offices and other support services. A sprawling new cafeteria – Terrace CafĂ© – and kitchen also will open to the public.

The second and final phase of the project is slated for completion in May 2012, with floors three through sixth opening with 221 inpatient beds. Also, a new and expanded St. Francis Cancer Center – nearly quadrupling its current size – is expected to open in January that year on the west side of the campus.

The $265 million tower project broke ground in late 2007.

But the focus at the Indianapolis campus April 5 was of celebrating the hospital’s future and honoring its past. Twenty Sisters from St. Francis Health and others representing “sister” hospitals in the Mishawaka, Ind.-based Franciscan Alliance were on hand to participate in the ceremony.

“Throughout the years, its has always been our vision to make our Indianapolis campus the heart of our health-care ministry in central and south-central Indiana,” said Sister Jane Marie Klein, chair of the Franciscan Alliance Board of Trustees.

“But with all of the architecture, artwork and medical technology that surrounds us,” she continued, “we do not forget the true reason we are here today – to serve all who present themselves at our doors, regardless of their ability to pay.”

A special blessing and dedication is a staple for the opening of any new Franciscan St. Francis Health medical facilities – and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ newly appointed Auxiliary Bishop was there to officiate. The Most Rev. Christopher Coyne was joined by the Sisters near the Angelus Bell.

Three times it rang – the only occasion since 1975 when it was removed from the tower at the Beech Grove hospital for safekeeping. And the ringing of the 1,000-pound bell was followed by a swelling chorus of similar ringing from commemorative hand bells given to dedication visitors.

Coyne, assisted by Sister Marlene Shapley, vice president of mission services for St. Francis Health, then proceeded to visit new areas of the hospital with the sprinkling of Holy Water.

During the ceremonies, St. Francis Health was recognized by elected leaders. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Greenwood Mayor Charles Henderson presented proclamations honoring the hospital’s service to their respective communities.

To learn more about Franciscan St. Francis Health Indianapolis Campus Expansion, go to