Room to operate: Ascension Alexian Brothers showing off modernized surgical facilities

Dan Doherty recalls the recent day when Ascension Alexian Brothers staff walked through the site's four new operating rooms.

The Elk Grove Village hospital held an open house for physicians and associates to ask questions and take pictures. Many of them, because of rules trying to limit infections, had never been in an operating room before.

"For our nurses who work in the OR, I think it's such a different work environment, such a different modern facility," said Doherty, hospital president. "Same thing with our (Post-Anesthesia Care Unit). And I think they're all just thrilled. I mean lots of them commented that they walked into a totally different place. Which is wonderful, right? That's what we want. We want them to feel like they're in this beautiful, state-of-the-art operating room."

That walk-through was part of Ascension Alexian Brothers' celebration of the completion of a phase of a major modernization and expansion project. The new operating rooms, which replaced four older, smaller operating rooms, were scheduled to go live this week. The PACU went live last week.

"It was really a fun day for everyone," Doherty said.

The old operating rooms were about 395 square feet. The new ORs are 610 square feet and "have all the bells and whistles of a modern OR. And it will be a great addition to the hospital," Doherty said.

The operating rooms primarily will be used for neurological and some orthopedic surgeries, the kind of procedures that can't be done at remote sites.

"They're beautiful," Doherty said. "I mean really they are state of the art, state of the art lighting. Spacious. I think we did a really nice job of building the operating rooms in such a way that they'll be user friendly. So they're all laid out exactly the same, they have all the same dimensions.

"All the med gases, all the electrical outlets are all in the same place, and that way the work flow for our physicians, for our nurses, for our techs, for anesthesiologists, the work flow is the same whether you're in any of the four new rooms that we've built.

"And I will say having worked at a number of different hospitals that's unique, because unless you've built your ORs all brand new all at the same time, because things change over years and decades, space configurations and design plans, you don't often see that singular configuration."

The idea, Doherty said, is to catch up with technology and provide additional storage for equipment, monitors, everything else that's used in modern surgery.

"Doing just basic cases in those rooms, was really limiting our ability to do the right kind of surgery," he said.

The hospital also is working on a vertical expansion of its east tower, adding two floors with 36 neurosciences patient beds. That phase of the project is expected to open in December. All told, the hospital is expanding by 70,000 square feet and renovating 201,000 square feet of preexisting space.

There will be a total of 25 PACU beds when the renovations are complete.

It's the biggest project at Ascension Alexian Brothers in 15 years, when the east tower was added. The hospital opened in 1966.

The project is coming in on schedule so far and slightly under the $107 million budget despite pandemic-related supply shortages. Walsh Construction is the general contractor for the project.

The project will make Ascension Alexian Brothers a hub for major cardiovascular and neurosurgical care, allowing it to take care of some of the most complex patients being treated outside of the major medical centers in Chicago.

"We're thrilled to continue investing in our community and providing state of the art care for our patients in the Northwest suburbs," Doherty said, "and we're thrilled to see these new ORs and our new PACU expansion to go live and are excited for our inpatient unit to be ready for taking care of patients in December."

  Ascension Alexian Brothers President Dan Doherty shows one of the four new operating rooms at Thursday June 15, 2023 in Elk Grove Village. All four operating rooms are much bigger than the rooms they are replacing and all four are setup identically making it easier for doctors and nurses to work. Brian Hill/
  Ascension Alexian Brothers President Dan Doherty shows the PACU, or post-anesthesia care unit Thursday June 15, 2023 in Elk Grove Village. The PACU is the recovery area for any patient who receives anesthesia for a surgery or procedure. Brian Hill/
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