OAK LAWN, Ill. — Work on the long awaited – and much needed – expansion of the emergency department and related support facilities at Advocate Christ Medical Center and Advocate Children’s Hospital-Oak Lawn, Illinois, is set to begin in the second quarter of 2015, following the Jan. 27 approval of the project by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board.
The planning board voted in favor of the medical center’s request for a Certificate of Need to move forward with the $85.5-million, multi-year project, which represents the third phase of the campus master plan to expand and modernize its facilities.
The project, to be completed in two phases, calls for:
- Modernization and expansion of the medical center’s Level I trauma and resuscitation center from eight to 12 rooms.
- Upgrade of and significant increase in the number of adult and pediatric emergency stations – from the current 42 to 70.
- Enhancement of clinical areas that support the emergency department, such as general radiology, inpatient endoscopy, heart catheterization laboratories, recovery areas, triage, cast room and transesophageal echo.
The expansion effort primarily will focus on renovation of internal space within the main hospital building. Much of that space was vacated when outpatient services were relocated to a new, nine-level Outpatient Pavilion, which opened in March 2014. However, some of the work will require outside construction, including improvements to the parking area near the trauma entrances to the emergency department and development of a covered garage to accommodate as many as 10 ambulances and other emergency vehicles at any given time.
“Fulfilling our health ministry of caring for all people throughout the region has become increasingly difficult because our current emergency facilities are so undersized. Our emergency department was built for an estimated 50,000-55,000 patient visits annually, but our actual visits have risen to 100,000 a year. The expansion of the emergency department will help ensure that all our patients can continue receiving the highest quality care when they need it,” said Ken Lukhard, president of Advocate Christ Medical Center.
“We look forward to the start of this project with great anticipation,” stated Brian Sayger, DO, chair of emergency medicine at the medical center. “Our role as the only Level I trauma center serving the Southland, the south and southeast sides of Chicago and Northwest Indiana requires us to have the right facilities to treat the severest of injuries. We also are a resource hospital for Region VII of the state of Illinois during times of disaster. Simply put, the expansion of our department’s physical space will improve patient access to emergency services here, help reduce the number of hours in which we have to be on bypass, enhance patient privacy and enable us to provide segregated space to address the special, emergent needs of specific patient populations – like our geriatric patients.”
In fact, during 2014, the medical center launched a geriatric track program – one of only several dozen such programs in the United States – to speed the emergency department’s care of patients who are 65 years or older and address their specific health needs.
Planning for the emergency department expansion began about seven years ago as part of the campus long-term development program. The project, when fully completed by the end of 2020 or early 2021, is expected to fully meet the needs of the medical center’s very high acuity patient population and prove highly efficient in moving emergency patients quickly through the triage-and-treatment process. The emergency department and trauma center will remain fully operational during construction and renovation.
Christ Medical Center is considered to be among the nation’s top hospitals treating the sickest patients and those with the most complicated health problems.