Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairwoman of Franciscan Alliance, greets patient Stephan Lemons with a warm blanket as he arrives at the new Franciscan Health Michigan City hospital on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019.

Years of preparation culminated Saturday in the successful opening of the new Franciscan Health Michigan City hospital.

The first patient at the new facility at 3500 Franciscan Way arrived at the emergency department at 6:05 a.m. Transportation of existing patients at the Homer Street location began at 8 a.m. and the final patient arrived shortly after noon. In all, 52 patients were transported by crews from Superior Ambulance. The expected snow held off until mid-morning when light flurries began to fall.

“Clearly, the many months of planning, preparation and practice have paid off,” said President/CEO Dean Mazzoni. “Patients are being moved safely. The staff is upbeat. Everyone is excited about getting into this new facility.”

Patient safety was the primary concern of Vice President of Operations Trish Weber. “Moving equipment, you can have a break here or there and it’s no big deal, but human lives – there can be no error. So we practiced and practiced,” Weber said.

“I am just amazed at what I’ve seen today. Everything is just orchestrated. There’s not a glitch anywhere. People know their jobs,” said Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairwoman of Franciscan Alliance, whose job on this day was to greet each arriving patient with a warm blanket and a blessing. Each patient that was moved received a keepsake blanket.

One of the patients moved on Saturday was Brett Erow of Michigan City, who was delighted by a smart TV that greeted him, displaying a “Welcome, Brett” message. “It’s such a huge event. Everyone is thinking to themselves, how are we going to do this,” Erow said, “But it really went smooth.”

The move was assisted by the Michigan City Police Department and LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department, who coordinated traffic at intersections along the transportation route for the ambulances.