Moving Silver Cross Hospital: It’s not brain surgery, but it is complex
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY | sun-times media February 4, 2012 7:32PM
Workers install equipment in the emergency wing of the new Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox on Thursday, January 19, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
The move, by the numbers
4 weeks to move 60 departments
20 months of planning
15 ambulances to transfer patients in four stages
125 to 140 patients to be moved
6,100 packing crates
2,900 workers involved in construction
38 beds in emergency room
225 security cameras
305 square feet in a patient room
317 new televisions
13,800 new medical items
2,200 parking spaces
560,000 square feet of space
76 acres on New Lenox campus
2,000 perennials, 40 trees, 300 bushes in serenity garden
175,000 square feet in Pavilion A medical building
53,000 square feet in Pavilion B medical building
21,000 square feet in Cancer Center
Library, with computers
Free wi-fi throughout building
Lots of windows/natural light
Artwork, local and nature-related
Butterfly-shaped building with curved hallways for increased visibility
Floor coverings designed for easy rolling of beds/wheelchairs
All private rooms with sleeper sofas and locked wardrobes
Special green surgical lighting to enhance viewing of patient’s anatomy
Partnerships with Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Children’s Memorial Hospital and University of Chicago Cancer Center
Public housewarming party
What: 45-minute self-guided tours of new hospital
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 12
Where: Silver Cross Hospital, 1900 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox (I-355 and U.S. 6)
How: Register online at www.silvercross.org/newhospital
Reservations highly recommended.
Updated: March 6, 2012 8:21AM
Take all that a homeowner goes through in moving to the next suburb, and imagine doing it 160 times in a four-week span.
What Silver Cross Hospital is in the midst of could be called the move of the century. Or century-plus, to be more accurate.
After years of planning and construction, the hospital will begin a new chapter in its 120-year history when it officially opens its new New Lenox home at 7 a.m. Feb. 26. But how it is moving those 31/2 miles east from Joliet to 1900 Silver Cross Blvd. is a story in itself.
More than 6,000 crates will have been packed. Sixty departments are involved. Hundreds of doctors, nurses and administrators. And police will be called in to make sure the roads are passable when moving day for patients arrives.
“This is a hundred times worse than moving your house,” hospital spokeswoman Tracy Simons said.
Plus, the hospital will be moving more than 100 years of memories.
Joliet has been its home since ground was broken in 1892. It is a home where generations of babies were born, people were healed and souls consoled after loved ones died.
Leaving will not be easy — physically or emotionally.
“It is bittersweet,” chief operating officer Mary Bakken said. “We have many seasoned employees who have worked here 30, 40, 50 years. Our children and grandchildren were born here. But everyone I talked to is genuinely excited about the opportunity to provide (care) in a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility.”
Patience with patients
All of the patients staying at the hospital are to be moved on Feb. 26, beginning at 7 a.m.
From the moment the first one arrives at the New Lenox building, all systems, equipment and staff will be ready and waiting.
The staff attended orientation sessions, took part in mock patient moves and built a mock patient room at the Joliet hospital to determine what worked and what did not, Bakken said.
“It’s about safety, not speed,” she said.
Hospital officials expect to move between 125 and 140 patients that Sunday. Kurtz Ambulance will provide 15 fully staffed ambulances, and local police and emergency crews will be stationed along U.S. 6 to make sure traffic doesn’t impede the patients’ move.
Each patient will meet with his or her doctor the day before the move and be assigned a packing team and a moving team. Accompanying every patient along the way will be a nurse, a paramedic and an emergency medical technician.
Those who require additional care, such as a critical care nurse or respiratory therapist, will have one. Parents will be allowed to accompany their sick children, and moms will ride with their newborns.
All patients will be assessed, fed and given medications, therapy or treatments prior to moving. Each will be issued a “boarding pass,” Bakken said, listing all special care instructions, medical information and their new room number.
The first patients in the new hospital will be those in intensive care, medical surgical units and behavioral health.
Silver Cross will be one of the first hospitals to use patient tracking software, so family members will know where their patient is at all times, Bakken said. The move for each patient is expected to take about 40 minutes.
“We practiced it. It’s really cool,” she said.
Families will be able to wait in a lounge at the new hospital, and the plan is to have every patient in their new room by dinner time.
To ensure a seamless transition, a lot has to happen long before the patients arrive.
The hospital’s dialysis center was the first to relocate, moving in December into the attached medical building known as Pavilion A.
Administrative staff gradually have been moving in, along with any equipment they temporarily could afford to give up, Bakken said.
Seventy percent of the furnishings and equipment will be new — in general, anything a patient or the public sees and uses, including medical equipment, beds, TVs, dining room tables and furniture — while 30 percent will be reused (such as staff desks). What isn’t moved will be sold at auction.
Consultants graded the equipment and furniture and helped staff decide what to keep, replace or reuse.
On moving day, some items, such as additional beds and respiratory equipment, will be rented.
Items for every department are color-coded, and people will wear colored shirts/uniforms so the different teams are easily identified. Each department is responsible for packing up its work spaces, and each has a coordinator responsible for all the details.
It is estimated that the move — actually 160 separate moves — will take 6,100 crates among the 60 departments.
On a typical day at the hospital, there are about 1,000 employees, volunteers and physicians. But on Feb. 26, there will be about 400 to 500 more, because both hospitals will be in operation during the crossover period, Bakken said.
“Everyone has come together to make this happen,” said Jeff Softcheck, operational planning director. “All that minutiae will make a big difference.”
The planning for the actual move started 20 months ago. The hospital hired consultants — Facilities Development Inc. — who visited other hospitals on the move and learned from those who went before them.
The best advice Silver Cross folks gleaned from all of this was to make patient safety its top priority, have a well-thought-out plan and stick to the plan, Bakken said.
“This is the largest and longest move we’ve ever worked on. It’s been a long, long journey,” Bakken said.
The actual moving process began Jan. 28. A few weeks earlier, crews were installing medical equipment and testing the systems at the new location. Color-coded checklists were taped to every door, detailing what furniture and equipment should be in it, along with a punch list of work yet to be done.
The final bit of preparation — before patients arrive — will be to sterilize the entire facility.
Overseeing the entire moving operation will be the Silver Cross command center, located on the New Lenox campus, Softcheck said. For three days before and three days after the move, hospital officials will coordinate the effort and make sure everyone is comfortable as they settle into the new home for hopefully another 100 years.
In case of emergency
The emergency room in Joliet will close at 7 a.m. Feb. 26, the same time the new ER opens in New Lenox. Both ERs will be fully staffed that day during the transition, Simons said. Ambulance drivers will be informed.
Patients who need emergency care after 7 a.m. should go to the New Lenox site. Any patients who arrive at the Joliet ER before then will be screened, released or stabilized, and transferred to the new hospital if necessary, Simons said. The ER in Joliet will remain staffed until all patients have left.
“It’s not like building a new sports stadium. We cannot go ‘play’ somewhere else while the new one gets built,” Bakken said. “As long as there is one patient there (in Joliet), we will be prepared for any service.”
Those seeking emergency services also may go to the Homer Glen emergency care center at 12701 W. 143rd St. (just east of Bell Road).
Nonemergency surgeries done the week before moving day will be scheduled at the beginning of that week, Bakken said. Outpatient services will begin in New Lenox on Feb. 27.
Looking back, and ahead
To link their past with their future, hospital officials took the original shovel used to break ground in Joliet to do the same at the New Lenox campus, and they also mixed in some soil from the Joliet site.
At the main entrance, the Maltese Cross embedded in limestone was relocated from the Joliet campus, where it stood atop the oldest building. The stained glass windows from the old chapel now enlighten the new chapel, just inside the main entrance. The story of Silver Cross is told in words and pictures in the new Legacy Hall.
The new “house” is slightly smaller — 560,000 square feet vs. 700,000 — but it has a few more beds (289 vs. 245).
As for the Joliet campus, about 100 business office employees will remain there. The emergency room will be transformed into a 60,000-square-foot outpatient clinic for veterans, and Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center and Health Center will bring a clinic to the facility.