Children’s Memorial Hospital is getting a new home in Chicago next month. As with any move there’s much to be done, but it’s astonishing to consider the innumerable details involved in planning, building, and relocating an organization of this scale. I recently had the opportunity to tour the new Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital facility and it’s clear that amid all the preparations the kids truly come first.
Standing 23 stories above Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood, Lurie Children’s is the tallest hospital in the world. The new hospital has been named in honor of Anne Lurie, a local philanthropist and former nurse at Children’s, who pledged $100 million to the project. There are many benefits to the new 1.25 million square feet space, but what struck me most was the inspiring and supportive environment that permeated the hospital.
Alongside the space age medical technology, a Children’s Advisory Board of current and former patients weighed in on elements that would make the hospital experience less intimidating to patients and their families. This includes art along the hallways leading to operating rooms as well as inside the rooms.
Each floor of the hospital is named after a different Chicago community partner and decorated to match. On the first two floors, visitors are greeted by Shedd aquarium whales and a living fish tank. Interestingly, the emergency room is located on the second floor with access via an enclosed ambulance bay and special elevators for ER patients.
The Lurie Children’s facility will give the hospital the long-overdue space it needs to serve its patients as well as room to grow. This includes 288 private rooms equipped with accommodations for families with the capacity to expand to 313 rooms. Each inpatient room has a pull-out couch for those who want to sleep near their child. Additionally, there are lounges and sibling play areas nearby so families can relax only steps away.
The hospital’s new location on the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine campus will strengthen research opportunities. It will also be attached via walkway to the adjacent Prentice Women’s Hospital to allow for the quick transfer of newborns in critical condition, while allowing the mother to visit without having to discharge from Prentice.
Lurie Children’s will be home to an old fashioned Walgreens soda shop and pharmacy, modeled after its first locations. Walgreens will provide at-home and even hospital bedside delivery, allowing families to remain with their children. An in-unit hotel for inpatient families will be serviced by Affinia.
An incredible degree of thoughtfulness is evident in the stimulating details around every corner at Lurie Children’s. For example, each night a child will be selected to program the color and frequency of the Children’s LED hand logo on the building’s exterior using a flat screen TV in their room. Every patient elevator features an activity like pressing buttons to hearing different city traffic sounds. Themed display boxes provide an interesting distraction as patients are wheeled throughout their unit, and on the Adler Planetarium-sponsored floor an astrology wall will light up constellations on command.
One entire floor is devoted to fun activities away from all of the medical devices. Featuring a salon, meditation room, and teen lounge, among other things, patients can enjoy time away in a less intimidating hospital setting.
A piece of the Children’s Memorial Hospital’s Lincoln Park heritage is proudly showcased in the Founder’s Tree House. Made of a preserved Lincoln Park tree dating back to the 1896 World’s Fair, the tree house connects patients to the garden below, which they are unable to enter.
Lurie Children’s is making medical history in Chicago and in the world. Aside from the miracles accomplished by its devoted staff every day, this engaging and compassionate space itself is a wonder to behold.
While the official opening is not until June, Lurie Children’s welcomes the Chicago community to tour its new facility this weekend. Tour this incredible institution this Saturday, May 12 between 10am – 5pm. Click here to RSVP or for more information.
If you would like to make a donation to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital you may do so here.
If you still need motivation, check out this promotional song featuring hospital employees and Chicago celebs including Children’s patient and YouTube sensation Keenan Cahill.
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
225 East Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611