BY SUSAN ERLER
GARY | A teaching hospital in Gary couldn't become a reality for at least a few more years and faces a few hurdles, namely funding, region health officials said Friday.
The good news is that years of wishing and hoping for the hospital will gain focus through a partnership between The Methodist Hospitals and Indiana University Northwest, and a research group at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business has agreed to study the project's feasibility, officials said Friday.
"We're trying to make a concerted effort to have a process that is defined," Methodist's chief executive officer, Ian McFadden, said. "The demographic study is the first step in determining what can really happen."
McFadden and other Methodist officials, along with officials from IUN and state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, spoke at a Friday news conference announcing the partnership.
The study, which will explore the costs, location, effect on community and other variables of a teaching hospital in Gary, is expected to take two to three months, with a final report possible in about six months, IUN Chancellor Bruce Bergland said.
The office of IU President Michael McRobbie, which oversees all seven IU campuses, is funding the study, Bergland said.
The prospect of a teaching hospital, where students from the nearby IU Medical School Northwest campus could advance their studies, has been talked about for numerous years, Bergland said.
A task force made up of community members, meanwhile, has focused for more than two years on making sure Gary continues to be home to a hospital, Brown said.
The vision is for the teaching hospital to be located near the IUN campus on Broadway, south of Interstate 94, Brown said.
Gary Mayor Rudy Clay has committed to making land available either west or north of the IUN campus for the hospital, Brown said.
The fate of the existing downtown Gary hospital, should a new hospital get built, isn't yet known and could become clearer when the IU study is complete, officials said.