...of 13 and a half feet. The presence of a roadway under the old building necessitated a floor-to-floor height of 22 feet on one level, and the architects took advantage of the extra space to accommodate additional ventilation equipment required by the surgery suites in the new building.

A rendering of the renovated and expanded OSF St. Francis Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Illinois shows the building’s new front and the new parking ramp.
Photo: OWP/P Cannon Design
A rendering of the renovated and expanded OSF St. Francis Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Illinois shows the building’s new front and the new parking ramp.

Beyond the work required to tie the two buildings together, the Milestone project will not have much impact on the existing Gerlach Building. Once the existing emergency department is vacated, minor work will turn the area into office space, Ostrom says, but other existing patient areas will remain intact.

The Milestone project presented a number of construction challenges, Werner says. First and foremost was preventing disruption of the existing hospital’s operations. “The existing hospital has remained totally open and functioning during the entire construction process,” he says. That added to the logistical challenges of getting materials to the construction site—and getting trauma patients in via air ambulance.

Emergency personnel and construction crews established radio connections in order to pass along warnings of approaching medical helicopters. Protocols were established so that work involving the two towercranes would be halted while copters were in the air nearby.

“Another challenge is dust and noise and vibration. Noise and vibration are big concerns for physicians as well as for patients,” Werner says. “We have strategies and methodologies for how we install product and the equipment we’re using and the hours of the day.”

Managing such a large project in a mid-sized community required some special considerations, Werner continues. “It’s a large project and because of the size and scale there are certain challenges relative to the local subcontracting community,” he says. For example, there’s some $30 million worth of electrical work—too much for any one contractor in the area, so the work was split among multiple electrical firms.

There are many ways the Milestone project will improve the patient experience, according to Guillot, beyond the enhanced ease of entry and navigation. “It was extremely important to balance the image between the Children’s Hospital of Illinois and OSF. We spent a lot of time understanding how to design a children’s hospital within a hospital. They tried very hard and we tried very hard to come up with the right balance of what a children’s hospital should be and what an adult hospital should be.”

Then there’s the new ER. “We consider this to be the most innovative emergency department in the country,” he says. Patient treatment rooms are arranged in circular groupings around centralized staff-only areas. “It allows the staff and supplies to travel on the inside. Families and patients enter the treatment bays from the perimeter.” The result will be a quieter-than-usual ER from the perspective of patients and visitors.

“In the patient floors we tried a few concepts that are good practices, including the introduction of a third corridor in the middle to take some of the service traffic away from patient rooms,” he says. That means noisy supply carts are less likely to disrupt the quiet that patients need.

Work is on track for completion in the spring or summer of 2010, Ostrom says. Occupancy of the new tower is expected in August or September.