By A. J. Goldsmith
Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital is planning to open a new, “state of the art hospital” sometime in early 2017, according to Tom McAfee, hospital president.
McAfee and several other hospital executives addressed about 30 local residents Thursday evening, Nov. 16, at the Northwestern Lake Forest Health and Fitness Center.
The topic of the presentation was Campus Rehabilitation Project. Residents were told that a total revitalization of the entire 160-acre hospital complex is in the works. According to Carol Chiles of Northwestern Memorial’s Design and Construction Department, the master planning is expected to be completed in 2012, the design phase done in the spring of 2014, and construction completed in 2017.
McAfee said that no architect had been hired yet.
Our goal is to build “a hospital that supports current technologies, provides efficient coordination of care and contemporary standards for patient privacy and comfort,” said Chiles.
It was pointed out that there are many steps to be taken. These steps include meetings with the Illinois Hospital Facilities Planning Board, Illinois Department of Transportation, and the various Lake Forest municipal agencies including planning, flood control and .police and fire departments. The North Shore Sanitary District is also to be consulted.
Included among the plan’s goals are to achieve direct access to the hospital complex from U.S. Highway 41 and improved access from Deerpath and Waukegan road, especially for emergency vehicles.
Several people inquired at the size of the new building that would eventually replace the current four-story, 205-bed structure. Their concerns included how much light would the building shed on nearby homes and loss of privacy. They were told that buffers would be appropriate.
A seven-story building is “inappropriate for the area,” said one resident.
Chiles indicated that the type of structure is still being studied, but she seemed to lean toward a four-to-six-story building. Her staff is evaluating hospitals in other places that are adjacent to residential areas. She did say that a vertical facility is more efficient than one spread over several acres.
McAfee told the group that the new facility will “be not bigger than it needs to be. We will not build a hospital that is not safe or cannot deliver proper care.”
Affiliated with Northwestern Memorial HealthCare in 2010, Lake Forest Hospital has served Lake County for more than 111 years. In 2009 all of the hospital’s facilities had 2,339 employees and 252 physicians who primarily practice at the hospital. It is the second largest nonprofit employer in Lake County. During 2009, the hospital provided $7.7 million in charity care.