Community Hospital undergoes major expansion project

2013-04-24T00:00:00Z Community Hospital undergoes major expansion projectBy LuAnn Franklin
April 24, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The stories-tall yellow crane is visible from many blocks away – a symbol of major construction taking place at Community Hospital, 901 MacArthur Blvd. in Munster.

Construction of the $33 million expansion at the Munster campus began Jan. 21 and will add four stories above the existing Emergency Department Pavilion or 112,410 square feet to the main hospital campus. This project is expected to create around 75 construction jobs.

All hospital services will remain open during the multiphase project that will take 24 months to complete. Additional floors will be added to the existing Emergency Department Pavilion above the Emergency Dept. pavilion off Calumet Avenue and Fisher Street to create new space for existing departments to occupy. The construction process will not interfere in daily operations of any hospital services.

The project was designed Chicago-based VOA, Inc. architectural firm and Walsh Construction is serving as the general contractor. The new space will add private rooms, double the capacity of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), expand the main Surgical Services area and increase capacity for stroke and heart patients.

“Community Hospital is the busiest hospital in Lake County and this latest expansion will help us to respond to the growth and demand for our services,” says Donald P. Fesko, CEO, Community Hospital.

The timing of the project is based on current need and future demand for healthcare services at Community Hospital. With this expansion, the hospital will modernize patient accommodations – and add additional private rooms - for our patients and families.

Capital dollars continue to be invested in projects throughout Community Healthcare System for inpatient as well as outpatient services. Over the last two years, Community Healthcare System has invested a significant amount of money, staff and resources for the implementation of the electronic health record to help us to make healthcare safer, more efficient, while improving the patient experience and quality of care.

Community Hospital has seen a greater demand for services in its surgical areas, including neurosurgery and robotic assisted surgery. The expansion of surgical services will help the hospital meet this need.

According to Fesko, Community is creating a robust Family Birthing Center that centers around new families as well as the specialty Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that is staffed around the clock with board certified Neonatologists.

In preparation for the expansion of the NICU, Community Hospital and University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital entered into a partnership last fall where critically-ill babies in Community Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are cared for by board certified University of Chicago Medicine neonatologists. This relationship ensures continuity in best practices, advanced technologies and techniques used in neonatal intensive care, Fesko says.

To accommodate growth in family services and specialty neonatology care, the top three floors in the Emergency Department (ED) Pavilion addition will encompass the Family Birthing Center, doubling the size of the NICU. The fourth floor will feature 25 private Post-Partum rooms plus a Newborn Nursery. The 32-bed NICU will be located on the fifth floor. On the 6th floor will be 12 private Labor & Delivery rooms with 2 Caesarean section suites.

When the relocation of the existing Family Birthing Center to the new ED Pavilion addition is completed, the second phase of the project will begin. The Surgical Services on the main floor will be expanded to include:

• 4 additional surgical suites to accommodate the demand for robotic and other advanced/minimally-invasive surgeries

• 4 gastrointestinal (GI) procedure suites to accommodate an increase in bariatric and other procedures

• 7 pre-operative beds

• 4 recovery beds

• 27 Same-Day Surgery beds

The third floor of the new ED Pavilion addition will house 32 private telemetry (Intermediate Care Unit) rooms which feature heart monitoring and other specialized equipment. These beds will be relocated from the Intermediate Care Unit currently on hospital’s second floor. This project will also allow Community to provide private accommodations for heart and vascular patients to aid in their healing process. All of these areas have seen increased growth. Fesko says the hospital wants continue to provide high quality care in a comfortable environment to meet the needs of patients and physicians.

Neuroscience Intensive Care and Neuroscience Intermediate Care will expand to the vacated Intermediate Care Unit to allow for the increased number of patients requiring neurosurgery, spine and stroke care.

The existing Cardiovascular Unit will relocate to the area of the vacated Labor & Delivery space on the first floor, expanding the capacity and allowing for private patient rooms for heart and vascular patients.

“Patients look to Community Hospital for the high quality care it provides, for the expertise of its doctors and staff and its advanced technology,” says Fesko.

“We also know that our patients want a hospital that can also cater to their needs for privacy and be able to deliver care as efficiently and as conveniently as possible,” he says. “This project will not only create an expanded hospital on the outside, but a more patient-focused hospital on the inside.”

Patient and staff safety is always a very high priority, Fesko says.

“Although the noise level may be increased during the construction phase we will do everything to keep noise to a minimum. All active construction areas will be secured so patients/visitors and staff will be safe at all times,” he says.

“The first phase of this project is expected to take 14 months, so we plan on moving departments into the new space around March, 2014,” Fesko says. “We expect the second phase to be complete by January, 2015, but will have a better idea on the timeline as the project progresses.”

This is the latest expansion of Community Hospital. Three years ago, Community Hospital invested more than $40 million to build a new Emergency Department Pavilion and add private rooms on three additional floors.

“Like this latest construction project, that expansion added advanced technology, new comforts for patients and families, and new efficiencies that enable the healthcare team to offer the highest quality treatment to patients,” Fesko says.

Community Hospital is one of Lake County's largest and busiest hospitals– with 427 beds, more than 3,000 employees and 600 on the medical staff. The hospital supports the area's largest cancer treatment and research programs, linked to the National Cancer Institute and major research cooperatives around the globe. Cardiovascular research, neurosurgery and neonatal intensive care and a 5,000-member medically-based fitness center are other examples of the hospital's broad range of specialties.

For more information on Community Hospital programs and services, visit

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