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Christ Medical Center plans smaller patient tower

Christ Medical Center

Christ Medical Center

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Updated: November 27, 2012 11:09AM



Because of needing fewer beds, Christ Medical Center wants to reduce the size of the patient tower it plans to build in Oak Lawn, according to documents filed this week with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board.

The key changes would cut the nine-story building to seven stories, reduce the number of intensive care beds in the building from 108 to 72 and eliminate nearly 69,000 square feet of space.

Christ would save about $46 million in overall project costs, but construction would allow for the addition of more floors if future need justified it, according to a letter to the state board from Jeffrey So, Christ’s director of business development and community relations.

After months of debate, the village board last month approved the hospital’s plans for the nine-story tower and a parking garage on Kostner Avenue. The plans were to go before the state board next Tuesday, but hospital officials have asked for a deferral until the Dec. 10 meeting.

In his letter explaining the need to modify Christ’s plans, So wrote that results of working with Medicare and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois as an accountable care organization (ACO) indicated that “patients in our ACO have fewer hospitalizations.” The results prompted Christ officials to re-examine all of its capital projects. ACOs are an important part of the new federal health care law, designed to bring down costs.

While a major expansion is necessary, So wrote, a smaller number of additional beds coupled with adaptable construction “allows us to build for what we expect demand to be over the next several years and gives us options for the future.”

Christ’s plan also adds 17 obstetric beds for high-risk pre-birth, post-birth and gynecology patients, documents show.

The patient tower is the second phase of a $600 million expansion project at the hospital, 4440 W. 95th St.

Christ began planning its expansion five years ago. The patient tower was the subject of debate in Oak Lawn in recent months until the hospital addressed some residents’ concerns about landscaping, parking and traffic.

Even after the village board approved the project in mid-September, Trustee Tom Duhig (4th), whose district includes the hospital, expressed disappointment that a financial impact study has not been completed.



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