Marion County Voters Give the Green Light to Wishard

By: Scott P. Fisher

On Tuesday voters passed the referendum that clears the way for a new $754 million Wishard Memorial Hospital complex.  What voters made clear is that a new Wishard, which serves roughly two-thirds of Marion County’s uninsured patients, is a major teaching hospital for the Indiana University School of Medicine, and offers specialized care, such as a Level 1 trauma center and the state’s largest burn unit, is wanted and needed.  Some voiced opposition to the Wishard project in that it is unclear whether HHC would be able to pay the estimated $604 million to $703 million debt over the 30 years of the life of the bond without additional county property tax revenue. Matt Gutwein, head of HHC, has steadfastly maintained that it will be able to make payments without having to use additional revenue from property taxes in that HHC runs annual surpluses and has set aside $150 million in cash for the project.  Although the implications to Marion County taxpayers will be the subject of future debate, what is clear is that the massive project will put many area Hoosiers back to work, and soon.  According to Marion County Health and Hospital Corp., the wrecking ball will soon come to two buildings on IUPUI’s campus, the former Larue D. Carter hospital and the former Indiana Health Department Building.  Construction of an ultra-modern 1.2 million-square-foot hospital complex with roughly 300 inpatient beds, a parking garage, office complex and power plant would then commence on the land between 10th and Michigan Streets in a land swap deal with IUPUI.