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Advocate Christ Construction Will Continue

Construction of a seven-level patient bed tower at Advocate Christ Medical Center is expected to begin in early 2013, as a result of the approval of the project by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board on Monday.

Advocate Christ Medical Center is located at 4440 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn.

Meeting in Bolingbrook, the state planning board voted unanimously in favor of the medical center’s request for a Certificate of Need to move forward with the bed tower, which will house 72 new intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 17 beds for high risk obstetrical and gynecology patients.

Additionally, the tower will provide space for labor, delivery, recovery and surgical delivery (C-section) rooms. The added beds will increase the campus’ overall number of ICU beds by 50, and the number of obstetrical and gynecology beds will rise from 39 to 56.

The bed tower will be built in Oak Lawn just north of 95th Street along the west side of Kostner Avenue. It will be adjacent to and interconnected with the campus’ main hospital building.

When completed sometime in the fall of 2016, the $300 million project will consist of more than 308,000 gross square feet of space.

Also to be constructed Ñ across the street from the bed tower Ñ will be a multi-level parking facility, which will be linked to the tower by a second-story pedestrian bridge to maximize safety.

ÒWe are truly grateful that the state planning board has approved this project. It is a critical part of our 10-year plan to meet the needs of the community now and long into the future,” said Ken Lukhard, president of Advocate Christ Medical Center.

In his presentation to the state planning board, Lukhard emphasized that the expansion will Òenable the medical center to continue fulfilling its health care ministry of treating the sickest of the sick as the only tertiary/quaternary care, teaching institution serving the south and southwest communities of metropolitan Chicago.”

Until now, the campus’ record of high patient occupancy Ñ among the highest in Illinois Ñ has reduced access to its services.

In 2011, a critical lack of capacity, including too few ICU and telemetry beds, forced the campus to go on bypass for some 1,100 hours. As a result, many patients in need of care had to be diverted away from Christ Medical Center and taken to other hospitals.

ÒThe bed tower will allow us to address an overall critical shortage of clinical space, including a shortage of obstetrical, adult intensive care and neonatal intensive care beds,” said Robert Harrison, vice president of business development for Christ Medical Center.

In addition to relieving this capacity issue, the new bed tower will help the medical center keep pace with advancements in medicine and technology, attract more outstanding health professionals to work at the hospital, and continue its mission of excellence in patient care, clinical research and the education of physicians-in-training, medical students and nursing students, Harrison said.

The project will also provide the medical center an opportunity to create contemporary and efficient space that enhances patient privacy; increases patient safety, including infection prevention; offers greater flexibility and information technology; and improves the overall patient experience.

Planning for a patient bed tower has been under way at the medical center for the past five years.

Earlier this year, the medical center submitted an application to the state for a nine-level bed tower that would have held 108 ICU beds. However, in a recent letter to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, medical center officials reported that the Advocate Health Care system’s progress as an accountable care organization (ACO), in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and the Medicare program, has resulted in fewer hospitalizations Ñ a critical component of national health care reform.

The success of this ACO initiative prompted Advocate to reduce the size of its bed tower proposal, but to plan on building the structure in such a way that more floors could be added if deemed necessary in the future.

The bed tower project, which is expected to enhance economic activity in the area through the creation of both construction jobs and permanent positions for employees hired to staff the new building and its expanded health care services, represents another major step in the modernization of the Christ Medical Center campus.

Phase I began last year when the campus broke ground for a nine-story Outpatient Pavilion at the corner of 95th Street and Kilbourn Avenue in Oak Lawn. That facility is expected to be ready by the end of 2013.

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