Serving by staying

“This isn’t just about a hospital, it’s about how we’re an anchor institution keeping the east side of Indianapolis a vibrant area for business and for the people who choose to live here.”

Scott L. Teffeteller

East Region President, Community Health Network

Landlocked on a 28-acre campus in a neighborhood too often misjudged because of crime and unemployment, the simplest option would have been to relocate to a zip code with a higher median income. But Community Hospital East wasn't about to abandon the community and neighbors they have been serving since 1956. According to Paige Dooley, the hospital’s chief nurse, “Our goal is to be a beacon of hope for the people of the east side.” Hear more about the hospital’s commitment to invest in the east side of Indianapolis, and how that investment is becoming a catalyst for community revitalization.

Renovate or replace?

A conversation with Scott Teffeteller, East Region President, Community Health Network

What is a “community hospital”?

This was a hospital built by the community, for the community in 1956. So it has been very much a part of the fabric of this community for a long time. But the need is probably greater today than it was 50 years ago. We are the only hospital who has remained in this geographic location of 250,000 people.

Construction on a hospital campus isn’t all that unusual. What makes this project unique?

We were looking for a solution that would make this facility last another 50 years. After months of studying and strategic planning, we decided to tear down 450,000 square feet of existing space and replace it with 275,000 efficient square feet. Before starting, we also had over 86,000 square feet of departmental and utility relocations. So how do you take 28 acres and build a very large hospital, when an existing hospital is already on campus?

The challenge seems significant.

The challenge is maintaining high-quality operations for the people we serve, while at the same time building a new hospital. All of which creates some pretty unique opportunities.

Where does Pepper Construction fit into this challenge?

One of the real attributes that Pepper has brought is their ability and their experience working with a number of hospitals in this kind of construction setting. They understand we have to maintain our patient experience, and we have to make sure that our patients know that having construction folks inside our four walls is not going to impact the care they receive.

At what point did Pepper join the team?

We brought Pepper, along with our architects, TEG, BSA and RTKL on board early on, when we first started to determine what assets to maintain and what to replace.

Where does the project stand at this point?

We have torn down two buildings, which gives us a large enough footprint to build our new bed tower. Once the new bed tower is complete, we will move patients into that tower. At that point we will tear down building 2 and the south wing of building 3, which will allow us to finish the project.

How is this project impacting your community?

If someone has a skill set or they’re a small business and they can deliver, we want them to have a chance to bid on our projects. Local trades are being identified and trained so they’re ready to go as some help for Pepper to hire. Pepper has also done a great job in working with some local high school internships. You don’t see that from a lot of construction companies. They are going above and beyond just building buildings.

What do you see as the long-term impact of your decision?

So we have made a conscious decision as a hospital that we’re not going to leave the East side of Indianapolis. And I can tell you since we’ve announced that we are going to spend $175 million on our 28 acres, the state now says they’re going to spend $150 million there. We have businesses that are spending close to $20 million dollars to reinvigorate their businesses here on the East side of Indianapolis. So it really is an economic engine for this community.






Envisioning tomorrow

The decision to stay on the same campus meant Community Hospital East had to completely rethink the way it serves its neighbors. Technology and utilities will be modernized campus-wide. The current Emergency Department, which was designed to serve 30,000 patients per year, now handles more than 90,000, so it will relocate and double in size. Inpatient and outpatient procedural areas will be centralized to greatly maximize efficiencies of staff and equipment. The patient discharge area will be transformed to streamline the process while providing greatly enhanced patient services. Of course, accomplishing this massive renovation without interrupting an extremely active hospital is no small challenge. But the partnership of Community Hospital and Pepper Construction is up to the task.


$175 million investment in the community by the State and local businesses since Community Hospital East announced its commitment to stay.


The existing five-story building was demolished and the concrete debris was run through a rock crushing operation so the aggregate could be used for backfilling the existing basements.


The hospital has experienced no construction-related Emergency shutdowns or patient care interruptions to date.

Community Hospital East

Location: Indianapolis, IN

Owner: Community Health Network

Architect: TEG Architects, CallisonRTKL, BSA LifeStructures