NEW LENOX — The new Silver Cross Hospital complex at Route 6 and Interstate 355 is already turning away potential patients.
People are showing up at the emergency room door, even though the hospital won’t officially open until Feb. 26, said Ruth Colby, senior vice president of business development.
“We want people to know about it, but come then,” she said of opening day.
When the $395 million hospital does open after three and a half years of construction, it will feature high-tech equipment, state-of-the-art design and a hotel-like interior.
The new 289-bed hospital in New Lenox will replace the existing 245-bed hospital complex located three miles west along Route 6 on the East Side of Joliet. The replacement hospital will be bigger, more modern and better organized, Silver Cross officials say.
The move was announced in 2007, ground was broken in September 2008 and the complex is 95 percent constructed.
Members of the media were given a sneak preview of the building and its curvy, earth-toned interior Wednesday.
Everything that went into the new hospital was designed using evidence-based design research, officials said. The soothing color scheme has a nature theme, with meadow greens, sky blues and sunrise ambers and oranges.
The hospital’s patient tower has walls that are curved in a butterfly wing shape to provide better patient privacy than a straight corridor. The floor coverings were picked because they reduce noise, but still allow staff to move patients easily.
With only a couple of exceptions, every room will be private and patients will be able to control lighting and air temperature from their bed. Each 305-square-foot room will have a 40-inch flat-screen TV, a sleeper sofa for guests and a large window.
Patient units will have only 18-20 beds, instead of the more common 40-50.
“This is going to be more of a private, intimate setting for patients,” said Mary Bakken, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “… Nurses are just footsteps away from any of their patients.”
Geoffrey Tryon, vice president of operations, said beds in the emergency department were turned 90 degrees, so patients will be distracted from looking into the emergency room.
In the pediatric unit, staff will enter from the front of rooms, but parents can enter from a separate door in the back of the room so they do not have to go into common areas.
An exit with frosted glass windows has been created for patients leaving the hospital to separate them from the main entrance.
“It’s a much more dignified way to end your hospital stay,” Bakken said.
There are separate elevators for visitors and patients. And in the surgery area, one elevator brings up clean supplies and another takes away soiled materials.
The hospital also will have valet parking, self-registration kiosks in the outpatient testing area, bathtubs in birthing suites, a coffee and sandwich shop that will be open 20 hours a day, a guest services lounge and a dining area with a brick pizza oven.
A library, chapel and a serenity garden — complete with 2,000 perennials, 40 trees and over 300 bushes — will allow visitors, patients and staff quiet areas.
Surgery rooms are being built with special green lighting that will make it easier for doctors to see images on surgery scopes. Nurses will have infrared devices embedded in their badges that will allow hospital staff to find them quickly in emergency situations. And the entire hospital will have wireless Internet access.
The hospital is being completed on time and under budget so far, even with stormy weather, power outages, union strikes and labor issues, Colby said.
“This project has really kept people working in the trades,” she added.
About 600 people have worked on the project. Silver Cross plans to hire an additional 50 hospital staffers once the new complex is open.
Doctors will start moving into Pavilion A in December. Pavilion B, which houses a women’s health center, has been open for 18 months. A cancer care center also is under construction at the 70-acre site and is slated for completion in April.
The new hospital is being built to allow for future expansion. The patient tower can be expanded by two floors and another wing, which would allow the hospital to grow to 700 beds.
While hospital officials eagerly await the opening of the replacement hospital, they also are hoping to hear soon about a veterans clinic that could be located in the old hospital’s emergency room.
“We’re very close,” Bakken said of a decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The clinic would use 60,000 square feet of the soon-to-be-shuttered ER.
“That would go a long way to meeting the needs of veterans in the area,” Bakken added.
But for now, all eyes are on the new structure rising out of a former corn field to the east. A community open house will be Feb. 12 and the new hospital will open at 7 a.m. Feb. 26.
“We’re pretty proud of it,” Tryon said.