FORT WAYNE - Fort Wayne-based Lutheran Health Network is celebrating the beginning of construction for its new hospital in the city's downtown. Lutheran representatives joined elected officials and community leaders to break ground Wednesday on the $120 million Lutheran Downtown Hospital, which expected to be complete in late 2021.

The five-story, 188,000-square-foot facility will replace the existing St. Joseph Hospital, which will be demolished once the new hospital is complete. Lutheran Downtown will include 60 beds, a 19-bed emergency department, a six-suite operating room, three cardiac catheterization labs, imaging and laboratory services, as well as the regional burn center. The health system says it will also have room to grow to more than 100 beds. 

"I continue to be encouraged by the positive momentum and investments we’re experiencing in Fort Wayne," Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry said. "Access to healthcare is critical to the current and future success of Fort Wayne, and Lutheran Health Network’s continued commitment to our community is valued and appreciated. Healthcare serves as an important component of economic development opportunities, job growth and quality of life amenities that help our city become a point of destination."

The health system says work has already begun to relocate the hospital's MRI machine from its current location in a building on the construction site to a temporary location next to St. Joseph Hospital. The MRI building will be demolished as part of the initial phase of construction, along the relocation of utilities. 

LHN says the attached medical office building on the campus, as well as the parking garage, will continue to be utilized once the new hospital opens.