Chicago’s Hospital Building Boom

Recent and planned hospital upgrades in the city and suburbs

In 2008, when Chicago-area hospitals began what turned out to be an approximately $6.6 billion building boom, it was for good reason. As the Illinois Hospital Association reported, in 2007 the state’s hospital facilities were, on average, 10.55 years old; the national median age was 9.77 years.

At the University of Chicago Medicine, for instance, most operating rooms were in Bernard Mitchell Hospital, which was completed in 1983, long before many contemporary medical technologies were available. “Mitchell was cutting edge for its day, but we started to outgrow it after two decades,” says Mike McCann, operations planning director for U. of C. Medicine.

Changing technologies aren’t the only things sparking this spate of new construction. The struggle to reduce hospital-borne infections  has pushed a move toward single-patient rooms, multiple hand-washing stations, and enhanced management of air circulation. Those improvements are more efficiently built new than retrofitted into existing structures.

Medical analysts have also learned that having family members close at hand contributes to better healing outcomes for many patients—as do nice views and abundant daylight. And with the spread of digitized medical records and wireless technology, nursing staffers now tend to their duties differently. Hospital planners factored in all those elements as they developed new facilities.

 Construction of new hospitals isn’t limited to the city. Central DuPage Hospital  in the western suburbs, Palos Community Hospital  in the south, and Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital  on the North Shore have recently completed new facilities or have something in the works. In the city’s Streeterville neighborhood, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago  is in the design stage  of a one-million-square-foot facility it plans to complete in 2016.

The slideshow focuses on four facilities: Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare’s  $450 million main campus, completed in June 2011; Rush University Medical Center’s $654 million medical pavilion  that opened in January 2012; the $855 million Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital  that opened in June 2012; and the University of Chicago’s $700 million Center for Care and Discovery,  opening in February. They are indicative of what’s going on throughout the region. Click through for a look at what’s happening.

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