Holes knocked in the walls reveal the inside of a more than 70-year-old Franklin hospital building where patients were treated and doctors had worked for decades.

But those holes also allow crews to clear out the inside of the original Johnson Memorial Hospital building before demolition next month.

The building, which originally opened in 1947, is being torn down to make way for a $47 million expansion that will add a new emergency department and outpatient services building on the east side of the Johnson Memorial Health campus.

Crews will be spending about a week clearing the inside of the building, then will need to make sure the walls connected to the rest of the hospital building are structurally sound before demolition can begin, Johnson Memorial Health president and CEO Larry Heydon said.

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The large holes knocked into the south and east sides of the building are the first outward sign of the massive construction project beginning, but utility and other work has been going on since December, Heydon said.

And once the original hospital building and the 101 professional building are torn down next month, construction work can truly begin, he said.

“It’s almost like the project hasn’t started; it doesn’t really start until the building is torn down,” Heydon said.

Preparing for the demolition began months ago, with multiple staff members moving out of their offices in the original hospital building, and more recently in the professional building, he said.

For now, that means many employees are working in cramped quarters or working off the main hospital campus, including in the Stones Crossing Health Pavilion in the Center Grove area, Heydon said. The moves have changed how employees have to work, with getting used to not being all on the same campus, he said.

Officials also weren’t sure if the Franklin campus could be used as a voting site as it has in past years, but they found the space, Heydon said.

Fortunately, the space crunch is temporary, he said.

Once demolition of the original buildings is complete, construction will begin to add more space in the newly built buildings, which will have more than 50,000 square feet of services. The new space will include a 17,400-square-foot emergency department, with a new ambulance drive and bay, and a 33,000-square-foot outpatient services center, such as radiology and laboratory services.

The new building will join the 20,400-square-foot rehabilitation facility on the west side of the campus that opened last year, which includes physical, occupational, speech and rehabilitational therapy services, orthopedic surgeons and pain management.

The contract with the construction company is to have work done by November 2019, when the new facility can open, he said. Some final work will likely be needed after that date to prepare office spaces for employees, he said.

What's next

Demolition has started on the original Johnson Memorial Hospital to prepare for an expansion project. Here is a look at where work stands and what is coming:

Currently: Crews have knocked holes into the building and are clearing the inside. They will also be ensuring the supporting walls connected to the rest of the hospital building are secure.

May: Demolition of the original hospital building and 101 professional building.

Summer: Construction begins on the $47 million expansion project adding a new emergency department and outpatient services building on the east side of the campus.

November 2019: New building is set to open.

About the project

Here is a look at the planned $47 million expansion at the Johnson Memorial Health Franklin campus:

  • Opened last year: 20,400-square-foot rehabilitation facility on the west side of the campus, which includes physical, occupational, speech and rehabilitational therapy services, orthopedic surgeons and pain management.
  • Construction starting soon: New emergency department and outpatient services building, which will replace the original hospital building built in 1947 that currently houses offices, which will include a 17,400-square-foot emergency department, with a new ambulance drive and bay, and a 33,000-square-foot outpatient services center, such as radiology and laboratory services.
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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.