Northwestern Medicine receives go-ahead for $100+ million expansion downtown and in Bloomingdale

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Northwestern Medicine has received approval to spend more than $100 million to expand care at its downtown hospital and to open a suburban medical office building, DataBid.com reports in its blog. There have been concerns from labor leaders that minority workers and patients are being left out.

DataBid cites a Chicago Tribune report saying that Northwestern plans to spend $77.6 million to add 24 intensive care unit beds and 25 medical and surgical beds to its flagship hospital in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood which should relieve overcrowding conditions in its emergency department.

The ER has experienced backups due to a lack of beds that have led to more than 3,000 patients a year leaving the hospital without being seen according to an application filed by Northwestern with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board. The hospital had to go on bypass and ask ambulances to take new patients elsewhere because of these backups.

Northwestern Memorial was on bypass about 31% of the time from 2017 to the first half of 2019 and has been investigated by the state because of this.

A new medical office building in west suburban Bloomingdale is also planned and this will cost $28.9 million. This project would involve renovating an existing building, consolidating three medical offices into one modernized location and increasing patients’ access to preventative services.

Both projects were approved by the board despite the concerns of the SEIU Healthcare Illinois, a union that represents about 1,200 Northwestern Memorial workers including housekeepers, certified nursing assistant and dietary workers.

The union has asked for funds to treat more patients on Medicate, building facilities to care for patients on the city’s west and south sides instead of in affluent suburbs, and pay workers more.

DataBid.com reports that the Chicago project is expected to be finished by December 2022 and the Bloomingdale office building should be done by June 2022.

In the past few years, a number of city-based hospital systems have expanded into the suburbs hoping to attract more patients and caring for patients closer to where they live, as they compete with other systems.

According to Microsoft News, part of its plans for the downtown hospital will also include constructing a three-story building connecting the Feinberg Pavillion to the Galter Pavillion, on the 10th, 11th and 12th floors.

The connector will be helpful in safely transporting critically deteriorating patients since they won’t need to take as many elevator trips and this will also help the staff move supplies, medications, equipment and food between the two buildings.

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