St. Catherine cardiac catheterization lab modernization ongoing
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St. Catherine cardiac catheterization lab modernization ongoing

Dec 12, 2023

St. Catherine Hospital CEO Leo Correa speaks at a recent news conference as Community Healthcare System and U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan announce a multimillion-dollar investment in life-saving cardiac care at the East Chicago hospital.

The $1.5 million federal grant St. Catherine Hospital recently landed is part of an ongoing modernization of the hospital's cardiac catheterization lab.

The multiphase project is bringing advanced equipment and procedural systems to the century-old hospital in East Chicago's Indiana Harbor neighborhood. It will result in new cabinets, flooring and other enhancements to the control room.

St. Catherine has renovated two of its three cath lab suites within the last two years, said Mary Miller, director of cardiovascular services for Community Healthcare System.

"We've been doing about one per year and making sure that we stagger it so that we still have patient care accessibility," she said. "This third lab that this cab table is going in will likely be completed within the next year."

The improvements are dramatic, she said.

"The room itself will be completely redone from floor to ceiling," she said. "The lighting will be redone. The anesthesia booms that allows us to capture gases for anesthesia, sedations, etcetera are currently wall-mounted. That's very cumbersome. This will move with the patient. It will allow for greater care and ease of care for the patient."

The grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration will fund an Azurion 7 C20 Catalyst table. It's image-guided therapy system designed by Philips Healthcare that provides high quality imaging at low X-ray dose levels. It results in more precise diagnoses and better treatment for patients.

"There's going to be the ability for IVIS, an ultrasound device that goes inside the artery and actually takes pictures inside the artery," she said. "There's multiple things this table can do that will be very beneficial to the population."

The technology features Cardiac Swing to capture difficult angiography views, StentBoost Live to enhance visualization during balloon and stent placement in coronary arteries and real-time 3D impressions for complex vascular surgeries. The work should start in early January and take about three months to complete, Miller said.

"They'll be ripping out flooring and putting in new ceiling tiles and everything," she said. "Phillips offers great technology. They have a good support team, which is very vital in the cath lab. This is going to help that caregivers at St. Catherine to provide the best care."

Community Healthcare System also recently brought in more diagnostic tools for heart disease for its whole hospital system, Miller said.

"We're always working ahead and looking ahead," she said. "We never finish."

La Carreta Mexican Restaurant and Bar fires up the grill in Winfield early this week.

The Mexican restaurant with locations in Schererville and Merrillville is targeting a Monday or Tuesday opening for its new eatery in the former Anytime Fitness at 10711 Randolph St. in Winfield. It's just awaiting a final inspection.

La Carreta offers authentic cuisine like tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, fajitas and chimichangas. It has multiple nachos plates.

The traditional Mexican eatery has a number of steak, seafood and chicken entrees. One can get a T-bone with shrimp, pollo loco or Camarones el Caribe with mushrooms, onions and a simmering cheese sauce. The Camarones la Carreta cooks a pound of shrimp in garlic, onion and white wine.

A house special is the Arroz Texano that mixes steak, chicken and shrimp with grilled peppers, onions, tomatoes and cheese.

There's a kids' menu, lunch specials and combination plates. Dessert options include flan and deep-fried ice cream.

The restaurant also has a three-way liquor license allowing it to serve beer, wine and liquor. It specializes in margaritas, tequilas and cold imported beer.

For more information, visit

Mi Tierra has been serving authentic Mexican food in a unique setting for more than two decades.

The casual dining restaurant served up hearty, homestyle Mexican food as planes took off and landed just outside the windows in the Griffith-Merrillville Airport. But now the longtime owner Jesus "Don Chuy" Toledo, a Mexican immigrant who served in the U.S. Army, is retiring and turning the restaurant space over to new owners.

"After 27 years in the restaurant business — 22 of them in the Griffith-Merrillville Airport — and some long discussions, Don Chuy and his family have decided they’re ready to take their next steps and are closing Mi Tierra. Our last day is June 30," Mi Tierra posted on social media. "But wait! Before you despair, we also have two other, even better announcements: First, we’re handing over the reins to Flako's Tacos, an East Chicago-based restaurant whose food truck has a strong fan base in Griffith. They’ll be bringing their amazing Birria tacos and flavor to town, but they’re also keeping some of what we do, too. It’s a win-win! They’ll be up and running in July."

Mi Tierra had fare like Steak Ranchero, Fish Caribbean and the Three Amigos combo. Diners could ask what's cooking for Don Chuy's latest special.

But it's not the final chapter for Don Chuy.

"And because you know no one can keep him down (trust us — we’ve tried), Don Chuy will still be whipping up spices and chorizo in a nearby space, so he’ll still be floating around and hopes to see the many of you he’s come to know and love. We also hope he takes a well-deserved vacation or six, but you know how that goes," Mi Tierra posted on social media. "We’re so very grateful to each one of you who’ve come through our doors and gotten to know us through the years. It’s bittersweet knowing we raised a whole family within these walls, but it’s also time for a new family to grow, and we hope you’ll show them the love and support you’ve shown us."

Where's the beef?

It's coming soon to Indiana Harbor.

Wendy's is opening its latest Northwest Indiana location in the downtown of East Chicago's Indiana Harbor neighborhood. A new fast-food restaurant with a drive-thru is under construction at the corner of Columbus Drive and Main Street, across from Subway in the Harbor's main commercial drag.

Wendy's offers old-fashioned square hamburgers, sea salt fries, baked potatoes, chili, Frosties and its famous nugs. Known for its irreverent social media presence, it overtook Burger King for second place by revenue, trailing only McDonald's as the top-selling fast-food burger joint.

The chain has multiple Northwest Indiana locations, including Hammond, Highland, Munster, Schererville, Merrillville, Crown Point, Portage, Chesterton, Valparaiso, Michigan City, LaPorte and Hebron.

Bulldog Ale House Food & Brews is now pouring drinks in downtown Lansing.

It took over the former Jack's Sports Pub and Eatery at 3325 Ridge Road. Billing itself as a burger, pizza and beer company, it's a local Chicagoland chain with locations in Algonquin, Aurora, Bolingbrook, Carol Stream, McHenry, New Lenox, North Aurora, Rogers Park and Rolling Meadows.

It serves traditional pub fare like burgers, sliders, tacos, pizza, wings, soups, salads and sandwiches. Signature entrees include chicken and waffles, pot pie, chicken parmesan and fish and chips. It also has shareable plates like truffle parmesan fries, garlic parmesan fries, loaded waffle fries, street corn, kale and artichoke dip and Italian beef egg rolls.

Sandwiches skew traditional with options like Rubens, Monte Cristos and French dips. Diners also can save room for house-made desserts like cheesecake and Rumchata bread pudding.

Drink options include beer, wine, liquor and cocktails.

For more information, visit

The Love of Arts Community Center is now teaching art classes in Griffith.

Founder and Executive Director Sade Carrasquillo opened the community center at 1115 E. Ridge Road. It provides classes and artistic resources meant to spur creativity in both youth and adults.

"I have dreamed of this day, and still can't believe that it has finally happened," said Carrasquillo. "Our community deserves more outlets where we can creatively express ourselves. I am honored to be one of those providers."

It hosts arts, crafts and STEM activities for kids between 6 months and five years from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

It also offers beginner guitar classes, VR Graffiti Art, Beginners Videography, Acting, Acrylic Painting, Hip Hop Dance and other programming for youth and adults, as well as art classes for people in the Lake County work release program. Most creative classes are six weeks in length.

"All of us have some type of talent and many want to explore new ones," Carrasqullio said. "The Love of Arts Community Center is here to cultivate these talents and of course offer fun and memorable experiences. We are excited to expand our reach to the town of Griffith as well as all of Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland" said Sade Carrasquillo, founder of For the Love of Arts Community Center."

For more information, visit

Illinois Dermatology Institute recently expanded its footprint in Northwest Indiana by opening an office in Munster.

The clinic is now treating patients for skin conditions at 9601 Calumet Ave., Suite E, in the Centennial Village development by Centennial Park. It treats conditions like acne, skin cancer, psoriasis, eczema, nail disorders, rosacea, warts, allergy patch testing, hair loss, cosmetic dermatology and pediatric dermatology. It performs procedures like mohs surgery and surgical excisions.

The Illinois Dermatology Institute office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For more information, call 219-491-3376.

The WhoaZone floating water park at Whihala Beach in Whiting has reopened for the season.

The family attraction features slides, stairs and other inflatables in the lake. It's a floating obstacle course at 1561 Park Road in Whiting.

Kids can climb stairs, run around and splash into the water while lifeguards supervise.

For more information, call 219-234-2615 or visit

Ella Jayms, a women’s boutique, is celebrating the third anniversary of its brick-and-mortar location in downtown Valparaiso.

"Ella Jayms is a woman-owned, lifestyle boutique that’s dedicated to women of all generations and celebrating life’s happiest moments," Customer Experience Lead Raeann Grusak said. "We take pride in providing a warm, welcoming environment for all & ensure that each person who walks through our doors leaves feeling happier and uplifted."

The boutique is located at 260 Franklin St., Suite 102.

"Giving back and paying it forward is the soul of our company," she said. "Since we opened our doors in the summer of 2020, we have had the honor of donating time and money right back into NWI to help our neighbors in need through nonprofits like The Caring Place, Women United, The Porter County Community Foundation, Housing Opportunities and Hilltop Neighborhood House."

It stocks clothes, footwear, accessories, home decor and Foggy Dog Ruby Dog Bow Ties to "make your pup extra dapper."

"While we reflect on these past three years, we want to thank our amazing community and customers," Grusak said. "Being a part of Valparaiso has been an honor; we’ve loved every second of it. We’re beyond grateful for the support we've received and look forward to many more years of celebration."

For more information, visit

Shops on 41 in Schererville is now 100% leased.

Crown Point-based Latitude Commercial, one of the leading commercial real estate firms in Northwest Indiana, leased out the last two spots in the new strip mill on Indianapolis Boulevard just south of U.S. 30 and the Crossroads of the Nation intersection.

A high-end barber shop and dental practice both signed leases. The new tenants plan on starting construction immediately.

“We’re excited for the two new tenants to join the existing strong tenant lineup and get us to 100% occupied, said Brett McDermott of Latitude Commercial. Both of the tenants will benefit from the great visibility on 41 and all of the tenants complement each other well. The Landlords did a great job on the design and look of the building and are happy to have filled the last remaining space.”

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A major investment in life-saving cardiac care at St. Catherine Hospital is being hailed as a victory for East Chicago.