Jason and Dawn Crane couldn't be more pleased with the progress being made on the new Alexian Brothers Women and Children's Hospital in Hoffman Estates.
Earlier this year, the couple traveled from their home in Streamwood to Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago for more than a month to be with their 13-year-old son Spencer, who was receiving treatment for Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder affecting the nervous system,
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Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, Chicago
Advocate Children's Hospital, Oak Lawn and Park Ridge
Children's Hospital of Illinois, Peoria
Children's Hospital University of Illinois, Chicago
La Rabida Children's Hospital, Chicago
Ronald McDonald Children's Hospital of Loyola, Maywood
Rush Children's Hospital, Chicago
Shriners Hospitals for Children, Chicago
St. John's Children's Hospital, Springfield
University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, Chicago
"It was very challenging," Jason said of the long commute to visit Spencer, who had spent time just a few minutes away, at St. Alexius Medical Center, before his stint in Children's.
Jason said it was especially hard on Spencer emotionally, as it was difficult for his friends and other family members to visit frequently.
The Cranes hope expanded services in the new $125 million hospital -- slated to open at the St. Alexius Medical Center Campus April 6 -- will mean fewer suburban families go through their ordeal.
While still far from complete, the hospital structure is beginning to show signs of life, with purple, pink, green and blue paint already on some of the walls. The building will include a Center for Pediatric Brain, expanded Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and labor and delivery units.
"It truly is a separate hospital," said Joan Cappelletti, executive director of nursing at St. Alexius Medical Center, adding that it will be a great alternative for local families -- and patients from as far away as Joliet and Rockford -- who otherwise might travel to Chicago for care.
Matt Wakely, vice president of communications for the Alexian Brothers Health System, said planning for the hospital began in late 2007. Studies were conducted and the results showed a need for a children's hospital due to the area's rapidly growing population and the increase in the number of babies born prematurely, many with complications, he said.
There will be more than 80 pediatricians and 60 pediatric sub-specialists at the hospital, including a pediatric neurosurgeon, which Cappelletti said is extremely rare at a community hospital.
Currently, there are eight children's hospitals in the Chicago area, almost all in the city.
Crane thinks other top hospitals, such as Children's and the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, will still be a go-to for patients with extremely rare conditions.
"Obviously you want to go to the closer place and the one that's in your community if you can," he said, adding that he thinks the new Alexian Brothers hospital will be the preferred option for local women giving birth and suburban parents who need to bring their child to the hospital for an emergency. "It just depends on what is needed."
Julie Pesch, public affairs director at Children's, said the hospital regularly receives patients from across the area and she anticipates that will continue to be the case.
"We found because of our level of expertise with our sub-specialists that we get the most complex cases in the area regardless," she said.
During a tour of the new building, parts of the ceilings were open and tape and paper still lined the floors, but small details like colored tiles on the bathroom walls hinted at what will be a lively color scheme.
Artwork and features like a large fish tank in a waiting area will add to the effect, Cappelletti said.
"The goal is to make it much more comfortable and friendly," she said.
The Center for Pediatric Brain will be on the first floor of the 210,000-square-foot building. Neurology specialists in the clinic will provide services such as epilepsy treatment, concussion recovery, and neuropsychological and developmental evaluations.
The second floor includes a pediatric unit and a pediatric intensive care unit, with playrooms for different age groups and private rooms that include expansive windows, a seating area where kids and guests can eat, and a sofa bed.
A Level III neonatal intensive care unit will be on the fourth floor.
Mother-baby units and a nursery will be on the fifth floor, and 14 labor, delivery and recover suites, along with operating rooms, are on the sixth floor.
"It really gives you an opportunity to have top-of-the-line services right here in your home," Cappelletti said.