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Silver Cross just days from relocation to New Lenox

Mary Bakken, COO of Silver Cross Hospital shows a patient room at the hospital's new New Lenox facility set to open Feb. 26. (Ashley Rueff/TribLocal)

In a little more than a week, Silver Cross Hospital will move in to a new facility in New Lenox and leave behind the Joliet campus it has called home for more than 115 years.

Crews are setting up equipment and preparing to move an estimated 125 patients to the new facility on Feb. 26 when the hospital officially opens.

Hospital staff have been practicing for the arrival of patients in the new space, and on Feb. 8 they put together a special practice run when long time Silver Cross supporters LaVerne and Dorothy Brown agreed to fill in as pretend patients. They made their way into the shiny new lobby and checked themselves in for an outpatient procedure.

“I declare them fit for duty,” said their family doctor, Joseph Hindo. The couple made their second $1 million donation to the hospital in 2010 to help support its new inpatient rehabilitation unit, which is named after them.

Last week the hospital began hosting tours and special events to introduce the community to its new space ahead of the official opening. A public open house is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, but with more than 6,500 already signed up, officials said those who didn’t reserve a spot can expect a bit of a wait to tour the facility.

The new building is located at 1900 Silver Cross Blvd., near Interstate Highway 355 and U.S. Route 6. The 560,000-square-foot facility sits on a 76-acre campus and came in under the budget of $375 million, said Mary Bakken, COO executive vice president of Silver Cross.

Groundbreaking at the site was in September 2008. Two connected buildings that house medical offices previously opened in 2009 and 2011. Work continues on the University of Chicago Cancer Center at Silver Cross with a planned opening in the spring.

The freshly painted and spacious rooms at the hospital are ready for patients and were built with the aim of making it feel more like a hotel than a hospital, Bakken said. Patient rooms come with large windows, wood accents and sleeper sofas that should make the hospital’s 24-hour visitation hours easier on family members.

Rooms are 305-square-feet and designed so equipment can more often be taken to the patient rather than having to take the patient to the equipment, Bakken said, and hallways are curved to make it easier for nurses to see call lights when they come on.

“It was really based on how we wanted to deliver care, and then the architecture followed that,” she said.

Nurse stations are much smaller at the new facility with 18 beds to a station compared to at least 36 beds to a station in Joliet.

“Smaller units allow the nurses to be in closer proximity to their patients, and it’s also quieter,” Bakken said.

The new facility also includes 11 operating rooms, two more than in Joliet, three CT scanners, two MRI scanners and a long list of other imaging equipment.

Still, with all the changes, Bekken said the hospital wanted to retain its history as well. Limestone from one of its Joliet buildings was incorporated in the entryway, and stained glass panels from the Joliet chapel were transferred to the New Lenox chapel.

“It’s an example of bringing our heritage with us,” she said.

Moving to a new location after establishing so much history in Joliet can be emotional, she said, but Bakken said the community should remember that while the facility may be different, the staff will remain the same.

“I can assure the community that the Silver Cross they know and love down the road will be the same Silver Cross here,” she said.

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Located at 1900 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox, IL 60451   Main Phone (815) 300-1100

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