Ground will break on the new $378 million Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in October now that the last of several major governing bodies have approved the project.
The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board recently approved the construction of a new hospital on the 170-acre Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital campus at 660 N. Westmoreland Road.
A permit from the board means construction can begin, said Thomas J. McAfee, president of Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital.
"We plan to have our first patient in 2017," he said.
Officials view the new Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital as a destination for health, wellness and civic involvement.
"We want this to be a world-class hospital and not just a destination to go to when you're ill," McAfee said. "We want to create an environment for the community to use when they're healthy."
The new 470,000-square foot hospital will house technology including what's termed telemedicine; an integrated physician platform intended to bring specialists together; a teaching hospital component; private rooms; a common area for community activity; and hiking and biking trails linked to nearby trails. A 60,000 square-foot medical office building for about 60 physicians will connect to the hospital.
Historically, specialists such as oncologists, radiologists and cardiologists have been removed and separated from one another in hospitals, McAfee said.
"But in the new hospital, they will be working side by side, fostering good communication, which reduces errors," he said.
The hospital already is incorporating the relatively new field of telemedicine, which McAfee expects to grow in the 21s century.
One device already in place is the "telestroke."
If someone comes to the Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital emergency room with a stroke, the team can instantly contact a neurologist expert from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, who can see the patient in real time via video and make the appropriate diagnosis, McAfee said.
"We know we get better outcomes as a result and speed of this technology," he said.
In the new hospital, operating rooms will be wired in and integrated with operating rooms downtown, McAfee added. "Surgeons downtown will be able to interact with surgeons up here."
When Northwestern Medicine acquired Lake Forest Hospital in 2010, officials said a new hospital likely would be built on the Lake Forest campus.
Northwestern Medicine includes Northwestern Memorial Hospital, a teaching hospital in Chicago and Northwestern Grayslake, which offers outpatient services
The new Lake Forest hospital will be built north of the current facility, which was constructed in 1940.
"That building can't meet the needs today or that of the future of medicine," McAfee said.
"We've been blessed with 170 acres on this campus – the trustees over the years acquired the parcels because they had the foresight that we might need the additional land."
The new campus design is forward-thinking and stresses sustainability, said Catherine Czerniak, director of community development for the City of Lake Forest.
The campus will have 116 acres of open space. Bioswales and wet meadows with vegetation will be built so stormwater can move more slowly, preventing pollution, Czerniak said.
Czerniak recalls the Lake Forest community's apprehension two years ago when the new hospital was proposed to the city planning commission.
The City granted a special use permit in May 2012, approved the master-use-plan for the campus design in October 2012 and then worked with an advisory committee and community members during the design phase. The final plan was approved by the Lake Forest City Council this January
Residents were concerned that the original proposed five-story building would be out of place or would impact neighboring properties, Czerniak said. The design now is a three-story building with a series of pavilions in an arc, she said.
"Rather than a solid big block of building, they designed something that's interesting and not so massive," she said.
Czerniak said residents are excited about the new hospital. "To have the opportunity to create a world-class medical facility right in our own community– it's phenomenal," she said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun