Work has begun on a new main entrance at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, adding more traffic cones, construction cranes and workers in hard hats to the campus near Lake Barrington, but also signaling further progress in the facility's $247 million modernization project expected to finish in 2017.
Officials say the new entrance will provide a much-needed facelift to the 35-year-old hospital.
"The lobby portion of the project really creates an updated look for the facility," said Alison Wyler, the executive sponsor of the campus modernization project. "Our building is old and we wanted to create a much better environment for our patients."
During construction, the west entrance of the hospital will serve as the main entrance. The east entrance will be for the emergency department and the testing center.
Karen Lambert, president of Good Shepherd, said the new space also will be functional, providing patients with easy access to many departments from one location.
"We make quite good use of that space," Lambert said. "It's more welcoming, but it's also a practical improvement."
The road to get to the entrance will be redesigned as well, allowing for better patient drop-off and pickup. The new road, called "the ring road," will reduce the driving around needed to get in to the hospital in general.
Lambert said many of the changes in the modernization project were made to reflect the industry increase in outpatient care.
The project calls for several frequently used outpatient services to be consolidated near the new main entrance so people can come in for care without having to be admitted to the hospital first, Wyler said.
Work began last October on what is perhaps the most significant phase of the project: a large four-story addition on the north side of the building that will add significant space to the hospital. Some of that room will be used to accommodate the hospital's shift to single-patient only hospital rooms, meaning roommates will be a thing of the past at Good Shepherd by 2016.
Lambert said the rooms will provide patients with more privacy and help reduce the spread of disease. Having exclusively private rooms is becoming the industry standard, even as the length of hospital stays go down, she added.
"During the time that you're here you can have that privacy, confidentiality and you can take that time to heal," Lambert said, adding that the concept has been well received when she tells members of the community about the modernization project.
Wyler said private rooms also provide medical teams with the space needed to accommodate modern equipment. Providers more and more are trying to bring the equipment to patients rather than patients to the equipment, she said.
"We're grateful to the community and excited about the project," Wyler said. "The benefit to the patients is going to be outstanding."