State approves seven-story tower for Christ Medical Center
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org December 10, 2012 2:46PM
Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 12, 2013 6:14AM
A scaled-down proposal to expand Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn won unanimous approval Monday from the state, according to the administrator of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board.
Hospital officials want to build a seven-story patient tower with 72 intensive care beds and 17 beds for high-risk obstetrical and gynecology patients.
The board approved the request after “not much debate” when it met at the Bolingbrook Golf Club, administrator Courtney Avery said.
“It’s not about having more beds. It’s about the community’s needs. This is a good project that’s needed in the community,” Avery said.
The tower will be built just north of 95th Street on the west side of Kostner Avenue, and will be interconnected with the main hospital building, according to a news release from the hospital.
The $300 million project, which includes a multilevel parking garage, is expected to be completed in the fall of 2016, the release said. Included is a pedestrian bridge from the garage.
The original plan approved by the Oak Lawn Village Board called for a nine-story tower with 108 intensive care beds. But hospital officials decided to scale back the scope of the first plan.
In a letter to the state board, Jeffrey So, Christ’s director of business development and community relations, wrote that “recent changes in health care delivery, both nationally and at Advocate, have caused us to re-examine the scope of this project.” He cited a trend of “fewer hospitalizations” because of the new federal health care law, which is designed to cut costs.
The renovated plan reduces the project by nearly 69,000 square feet and cuts the cost by nearly $46 million, So wrote in his letter to the board. But it would allow for the addition of more floors in the future if needed, he wrote.
The revised plan must be approved by the village. Village manager Larry Deetjen sees no obstacles to that happening, he said Monday. The plan is on the agenda of the village’s architectural review board for Thursday’s meeting.
“(Hospital officials) addressed all the issues before,” Deetjen said.
“I see this as a win-win-win. One, because of the industry they are in. Two, because of the construction jobs it will create. And three, because of the permanent jobs,” Deetjen said. “We’re very pleased and excited about their involvement in our community.”
Christ’s expansion plans have been in the works for five years. In the past several months, revisions and tweaks regarding the patient tower building have been debated by Oak Lawn trustees because of traffic, landscaping and parking concerns.
The tower is the second phase of a $600 million expansion project at the hospital, 4440 W. 95th St.
In a prepared statement, Robert Harrison, vice president of business development for the hospital, said, “We are both pleased and grateful that the state planning board has approved the project. The 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. Most importantly, the expansion will enable the medical center to meet the health needs of the Chicago region’s south and southwest communities long into the future.”
In 2011, a critical lack of capacity, including too few ICU and telemetry beds, forced the hospital to go on “bypass” for some 1,100 hours, the release said. Bypass is when patients in need of care are diverted to other hospitals.