May 25, 2011
…being eligible for Medicaid , the federal health…CommunityHealth, one of Illinois’ largest volunteer…are not eligible for Medicaid. We are a safety net…the exception of Medicare Part A, which is…Memorial, University of Illinois
May 24, 2011 …contractor are in place for the construction of the Chicago Cubs new spring training home in Mesa. Mayor…Goodyear, Peoria, Surprise and Mesa’s current Cubs facilities. The Cubs had initially envisioned the new complex would be…
May 24, 2011 …Like almost everyone else in Chicago, the Cubs were focused on the wild ending…by announcing that “not a fan in Chicago cares what I have to say right now…TNT cameras caught the former Cubs outfielder celebrating a Heat basket…
Knoxville News Sentinel – 10 hours ago
SEVIERVILLE – Tom Ricketts might need to get his own official parking place at Smokies Park. For the third time in the past 12 months, the Chicago Cubs owner and chairman has made the trip down to Tennessee to visit his Class AA Smokies players and …
Kane County’s newest task force met Tuesday to explore how to eliminate cronyism from the Metra Board of Directors.
A woman slipped while walking alongside railroad tracks in Naperville Tuesday afternoon and was brushed by a Metra train
DUPAGE COUNTY BOARD
Let the budgeting begin. With the start of the next spending year barely five months down the road, DuPage County officials are looking toward the …
The DuPage River came up during a conversation Jim Healy had with President Barack Obama earlier this month. As an active member of the National …
Couples in DuPage County who join under the new state law giving legal rights to those in civil unions will pay the same fees as …
Aggravated complaints over DuPage County’s dated mainframe website should soon be a thing of the past. Technology committee members this week had a peek at …
Patch.com – – 18 hours ago
A handful of DuPage residents expressed opinions about two plans detailing new County Board lines, but they largely backed one map during a redistricting public hearing with the DuPage County Board …
Crain’s Chicago Business – – 9 hours ago
They’ll travel from their beds at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park to the new Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Streeterville, with medical staff and police executing careful plans to move them quickly and safely. …
CommunityHealth works to catch those who fall through cracks
Agency helps those who make too much for federal aid but have no health insurance
By Erin Calandriello, Special to the Tribune
May 25, 2011
Hudson, who hasn’t yet found full-time work, said she struggles to pay her bills because she doesn’t have health insurance.
“I have never received a welfare payment. I work really hard,” Hudson said. “I have diabetes, and my prescriptions each month cost about $1,500. That’s on top of paying $900 for rent. So this is about doing what you have to do to survive.”
Although she has no insurance, her income prevents her from being eligible for Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor.
That’s why Hudson — like a growing number of working people in Chicago — turned to CommunityHealth, one of Illinois’ largest volunteer-based health centers. The clinic, which was founded in 1993, provides free care to the uninsured who make too much money to qualify for federal aid.
“We treat those who don’t have or can’t afford health insurance and are not eligible for Medicaid. We are a safety net for that vulnerable group,” said Judith Haasis, CommunityHealth’s executive director. “We’re needed more now than ever. The number of uninsured is growing. Right now, there are no easy answers for the plight of the uninsured.”
Eighty percent of CommunityHealth’s patients come from working households. The majority of patients are Hispanic; 17 percent are African-American and 15 percent are Caucasian (40 percent of whom are Polish immigrants). In addition to primary care, CommunityHealth offers more than 20 specialty services, including gynecology, urology, dermatology and chiropractics.
Hudson met the organization’s requirements for coverage: one must be uninsured, with the exception of Medicare Part A, which is in-patient hospital insurance; one’s income must be at or below 250 percent of federal poverty guidelines; CommunityHealth must be the primary provider of care; and one cannot be eligible for a government sponsored program.
“It’s been a lifesaver. There is no other place to go,” said Hudson, who has been a patient at CommunityHealth for the last several years. “The doctors are very loyal and follow up. They really make you feel like they care, instead of trying to push you out. They try to treat the whole person.”
When the recession hit in 2009, many more people turned to the clinic for help, officials said. The number of new patients served in 2009 grew by 33 percent, and in 2010 medical and dental visits increased by 15 percent from the previous year.
More than 400 volunteer physicians, dentists, nurses and nurse physician assistants from local hospitals including Rush Presbyterian, Northwestern Memorial, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Chicago and Loyola University conduct more than 22,000 medical visits annually, with additional support from 350 other volunteers.
The need for free prescriptions grew in 2009, resulting in the MedAccess Chicago pharmacy processing more than 59,000 prescriptions, valued at $8.9 million. With the expanded need for health care during the economic downturn, CommunityHealth decided to open a satellite site in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood in September.
“Recently, with unemployment increasing, we are seeing a different patient profile,” Haasis said. “We are seeing small business owners who lost their businesses and are in low-income categories who can’t afford insurance, or folks who lost their job with insurance benefits and are holding down multiple jobs that don’t offer any insurance.”
Even if the recently passed national health care plan fully rolls out as scheduled in 2014, about 175,000 residents in Cook County would remain uninsured, she said.
Ornella Razetto, coordinator of social services at CommunityHealth, said that during hard economic times, mental health problems such as depression and self-worth issues mirror employment issues. With increased unemployment, more people are seeking mental health services, she said.
“Here, we not only ask: ‘Do have your medications? How’s your blood pressure?’ We ask: ‘How are you?’” Razetto said. “With the state funding crisis, a lot of agencies have closed and some sites won’t take self-paid patients, unless they have actual medical coverage. So the hands of the uninsured are tied — they don’t know where they’re supposed to go for mental health care services. We provide that support for them.”
But there are limits to what CommunityHealth can offer on-site. The clinic cannot offer services such as MRIs and CT scans because of a limited amount of space, volunteers and funds, officials said.
As a totally free, volunteer-staffed organization, it receives no money from Medicare, Medicaid or third-party payers. It relies on individuals, foundations and corporations for more than 90 percent of its revenue.
So that’s why CommunityHealth has become creative in building partnerships with other organizations, said Dr. Babs Waldman, volunteer medical director of CommunityHealth.
“You’re back to why you became a doctor in the first place. These people are in great need, and your primary focus is taking care of patients, not making a living,” Waldman said. “You’re not worried about paying employees or insurance.
“For (medical) residents, it’s a wonderful experience because you really learn it’s important to take care of patients because we can’t run expensive tests. It’s frustrating, though, because someone could have prostate cancer and we need to get creative and look for partners at other institutions” to carry out tests.
Rush and Northwestern medical centers are donating their diagnostic services, including colonoscopies, ultrasounds and X-rays, Waldman said. Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge is providing MRI and CT scans for free on a limited basis, she said.
Mesa selects architects for Cubs stadium
12:55 p.m. CDT, May 24, 2011
Mayor Scott Smith said Tuesday that Populous of Kansas City, Mo., will design the complex. The company has designed 118 ballparks including spring training complexes in Goodyear, Peoria, Surprise and Mesa’s current Cubs facilities.
The Cubs had initially envisioned the new complex would be ready for spring training in 2013, but Smith says they’re now aiming for 2014. Smith says Mesa wants to avoid repeating the experiences of other stadiums that were built on extremely tight deadlines.
The East Valley Tribune reports Scottsdale-based Hunt Construction Group will build the complex. Hunt’s projects include Chase Field, the US Airways Center, University of Phoenix Stadium and 13 Mayor League Baseball stadiums.
Dempster sharp, bats heat up for Cubs
5-run 2nd sets stage for easy win over Mets
By Paul Sullivan, Tribune reporter
11:37 p.m. CDT, May 24, 2011
As hundreds of fans jammed the concourse to watch on overhanging TVs, manager Mike Quade delayed his postgame news conference to view the final seconds of regulation in the media room, joking to the reporters: “To hell with deadlines.”
Ryan Dempster opened his news conference by announcing that “not a fan in Chicago cares what I have to say right now.” And inside the clubhouse in the waning moments of overtime, Starlin Castro pointed to the flat-screen TV on the wall near the entrance, yelling “Sammy Sosa! Sammy Sosa!” as the TNT cameras caught the former Cubs outfielder celebrating a Heat basket.
The Cubs can only dream of getting the kind of love the Bulls are receiving in the postseason, but games like Tuesday’s blowout give them hope the improbable is possible.
Dempster, one of the keys to a the Cubs’ chances of contending, turned in his best outing, allowing one run on seven hits over seven innings. Castro and Darwin Barney drove in a pair of runs apiece, Carlos Zambrano contributed a two-run, pinch-hit single, Reed Johnson made one of his patented diving catches, and the defensively challenged Mets shot themselves in the foot.
“Guess what?” Quade said. “You can drive in runs without hitting home runs.”
The Cubs had nine singles and a pair of doubles, but managed to put up a five-run and four-run innings, two games after an eight-run inning against Boston.
“You know, I think too much was made about not hitting extra-base hits,” Barney said. “Look outside. It was beautiful for three days here, we come home and now the wind is blowing straight in and it’s cold. … That’s kind of the style we’re trying to play right now, especially when we’re at home. We’ve got to get our hits and make things happen.
“No one on our team is worried about (hitting with) runners in scoring position, because we’re getting our hits and it’s just a matter of putting it together.”
Call-up Lou Montanez added to the fun with a pair of hits, including an RBI double in his first at-bat as a Cub.
“It was a relief, a great feeling,” he said. “You want to contribute something positive from the get-go, and it was nice in that first at-bat, you get it out of the way.”
With the exception of the cheering in the concourse for the Bulls, the loudest cheer of the night went to Zambrano, who pinch-hit for Dempster in the seventh.
“I like to let ‘Z’ hit when he wants,” Quade said. “He was down there stretching forever, getting ready and swinging and doing whatever he does.”
Tom Ricketts enjoys view of Smokies
Cubs owner “excited” about farm teams
Adam Greene, [email protected]
Posted May 24 at 11:20 p.m.
SEVIERVILLE – Tom Ricketts might need to get his own official parking place at Smokies Park. For the third time in the past 12 months, the Chicago Cubs owner and chairman has made the trip down to Tennessee to visit his Class AA Smokies players and coaches.
Tuesday at the Double Play Cafe in Smokies Park, Ricketts spoke about the Cubs organization and his plans for the future at a luncheon benefiting the Sevier County United Way.
In February, the Cubs and Smokies extended their player development contract through 2014.
“This is a great relationship for us,” Ricketts said. “I love the park and love the people that work here. This is going to be a great thing for the Cubs for years to come.”
Ricketts was joined at Smokies Park by his sister Laura, who also serves on the Cubs’ board of directors. Brothers Peter and Todd Ricketts, who starred in an episode of CBS’ “Undercover Boss” last season, also are on the board of directors. So how does the sibling dynamic work in running the storied Cubs franchise?
“Fortunately we’re all very close and we’re all big fans,” Ricketts said. “It works out pretty nice.”
The Ricketts took over the Cubs in 2009 and since then have made it a priority to improve the team through increased scouting, both in the United States and internationally, facilities upgrades and minor league player development.
The proof of its success has shown up on the field in the minor leagues, with both the Smokies and High-A Daytona Cubs consistently competing for titles. Ricketts knows that what’s happening in Tennessee and Daytona is going to pay dividends at Wrigley Field in years to come.
“We see the results on the field here, 13 games over .500,” Ricketts said. “Daytona is 20 games over .500. We feel we’re bringing in the right players and giving them the right instruction. We’re excited about the direction of the team.”
Ricketts also is investing in improving the spring training facilities in Mesa, Ariz., and the developmental facilities in the Dominican Republic. Even Wrigley Field is due for an upgrade under the Ricketts’ regime.
“It (Wrigley) is one of those special things about baseball that everyone that’s a fan truly treasures,” Ricketts said. “There isn’t a season-ticket holder that doesn’t like their seats.
“The problem is when they get up, there’s a lot of things about Wrigley that need to be fixed from a fan standpoint and a structural standpoint. We have to take a look and make sure that the park is around for the next generation.”
Part of the upgrades to Wrigley, if Ricketts has anything to say about it, might be a couple of championship banners. Going into Tuesday night, the Cubs were seven games behind first in the National League Central race.
“We’ve had some tough breaks from an injury standpoint and gave some games away,” Ricketts said. “As we start to bring some guys back, we’ll be very competitive throughout the summer. In our division, we have the capability to be right there in the mix.”
Kane County looks to eliminate cronies from Metra
If you like trains and government service, Kane County might have a job for you. If you’d like a government salary and benefits to go with that job, don’t bother applying.
Kane County is accepting applications from anyone interested in being appointed to the Metra board of directors. That job currently comes with a $15,000 salary, a government pension and health care benefits. But allegations of cronyism and financial misconduct during the current board’s watch sparked Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay to call for the resignation of the current Metra board, starting with her own appointee, Caryl Van Overmeiren. Van Overmeiren is a former Kane County Board member and has refused to resign. Her current term expires in March 2012.
McConnaughay has formed a task force to explore a replacement for Van Overmeiren, whom she still hopes resigns long before March 2012. The five-member task force of county board members and McConnaughay met for the first time Tuesday. McConnaughay told the task force its job is to establish both the application process and criteria suitable for the position.
“The accusation has been that these appointments have gone to political cronies,” McConnaughay said. “I just decided instead of me doing it on my own, let’s make this as open and transparent a process as we can.”
Though task force members were reluctant to make it a formal part of the initial application process, just about all of them said any successful applicant would have to prove they want the job for more than just the perks with which it comes. Task force members suggested they will ask candidates directly in the interview phase if they are willing to swear off at least the pension that comes with the appointment if not the salary and health care benefits as well.
“Compensation, health care and benefits should not be a consideration,” task force member Mike Donahue said. “If you have a candidate, and that person says part of the reason they want the position is for the compensation or for the health care, that, to me, is the culture that we need to change. It should not be something the person relies upon or needs. The job itself is so important that it should be 99 percent of the a person’s reason for wanting the position.”
The task force also said all candidates must be able to show a background relevant to being on the Metra board either in terms of education, work experience or expertise.
The task force will meet again June 16 when it expects to whittle the field of candidates down to finalists. Most, if not all, of the interview process will occur behind closed doors in order to protect the reputations of all candidates. It’s not clear if a list of the candidates who apply will be made public.
Woman slips, brushed by train in Naperville
By Paul Biasco
A woman slipped while walking alongside railroad tracks in Naperville Tuesday afternoon and was brushed by a Metra train. She sustained minor injuries, and the incident caused delays, according to officials.
Metra spokesman Tom Miller, who was on the train, said the woman was struck just east of the Route 59 station in Naperville by an outbound express train that left Chicago at 3:18 p.m.
Miller said the woman was walking alongside the tracks on an overpass when she was brushed by the train around 4 p.m.
Naperville fire officials said the woman was taken to Edward Hospital with minor injuries.
The train was slowing at the Route 59 stop when it struck the woman and was delayed for about 25 minutes as emergency crews and police responded.
Inbound train 1276, which was scheduled to depart Aurora at 4:25 p.m., was canceled due to accident, according to Metra’s website.
DUPAGE COUNTY BOARD
DuPage County puts on ’12 budget cap
By Susan Frick Carlman [email protected] May 25, 2011 08:40AM
Let the budgeting begin.
With the start of the next spending year barely five months down the road, DuPage County officials are looking toward the fiscal horizon. The 2012 budget calendar is official, policies regulating the process are in place, and numbers soon will be crunched.
The County Board adopted the calendar Tuesday evening, clearing the way for the process to kick off with the posting of newly enacted financial and budget policies on the county website.
A public survey will be posted on the site June 1, according to the timetable, inviting input through July.
“The month of June is when the (parent) committees get together and bring in the department heads to work together,” said Paul Fichtner, who chairs the Finance Committee to which all County Board members belong.
Also in the first six weeks of the process, the Finance Committee will present preliminary revenue and expenditures for fiscal 2011, which ends Nov. 30, and an initial outlook for 2012.
County Board Chairman Dan Cronin will use recommendations from the parent committees, reflecting their take on their respective departments’ budget requests, to draw up his draft budget, unveiling it at the board’s Sept. 13 meeting. Countywide public hearings come after that.
The budget, projected to comprise 600 printed pages, is scheduled for adoption Nov. 22.
County Board member talks DuPage cleanup with Obama
By Susan Frick Carlman [email protected] May 25, 2011 08:40AM
The DuPage River came up during a conversation Jim Healy had with President Barack Obama earlier this month.
As an active member of the National Association of Counties, the DuPage County Board member from Naperville made a trip to the nation’s capital May 2 and 3, joining a group that met with the chief executive, Vice President Joe Biden and several members of the president’s cabinet.
“Opportunities to meet with the president of the United States don’t happen every day, so I knew I needed to take advantage of the situation,” Healy said in a press release issued Monday by the county. “I knew the president would be interested in knowing the restoration funding for the DuPage River had been cut, because he and Sen. Durbin helped secure those funds several years ago.”
As he shook hands with Obama, Healy noted that $10 million in federal funds is still needed to complete removal of radioactive thorium from the West Branch of the DuPage north of Naperville. The funding, cut from the compromise budget passed by Congress last month, would have augmented the $500 million already spent addressing the contamination, which traces back to U.S. military activities during the 1940s.
“The ability to have those few minutes with the president was a great opportunity,” Healy said in the release. “I think it will help the county, and our congressional delegation’s efforts, to get the funding reinstated so we can finish this important project.”
Healy and the other NACo officials found a distinct connection with the vice president.
“Biden was very comfortable talking about county government because he is a former county commissioner. The vice president has not forgotten his roots in county government; he was very sympathetic to county issues and our ideas,” he said.
The county officials also met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, among others.
“The meetings were very productive, and I think the cabinet members took away several ideas that will become policy and help DuPage County and our cities,” Healy said.
Fees OK’d for civil unions in DuPage
By Susan Frick Carlman [email protected] May 25, 2011 08:40AM
Couples in DuPage County who join under the new state law giving legal rights to those in civil unions will pay the same fees as their committed counterparts who tie the traditional matrimonial knot.
The County Board approved a new fee structure to accommodate the unions Tuesday evening.
Paul Hinds, chief deputy county clerk, said the existing code had no provisions for the newly sanctioned domestic arrangements for heterosexual and same-sex couples. The fees are consistent with requirements recently implemented at the state level, Hinds said.
The $30 license fee will take effect when the unions become legal statewide on June 1. Couples also will pay a $5 surcharge that is passed along to the Illinois attorney general for domestic violence prevention efforts.
The county requires couples to wait at least 24 hours after obtaining their license before their union is finalized in the chambers of 18th Circuit Chief Justice Stephen Culliton. The ceremonies will take place on Fridays, as marriages are done now.
Hinds anticipates substantial interest in the newly codified union option.
“It’s hard to say, but I’m expecting quite a few people to be in line next Wednesday,” he said.
In a related action Monday, the board increased the cost for certified copies of birth and death certificates and marriage licenses. Now $10, the reproduced documents will now require a $14 fee, which includes a $4 charge for storage.
DuPage website set to go live
By Susan Frick Carlman [email protected] May 25, 2011 08:40AM
Aggravated complaints over DuPage County’s dated mainframe website should soon be a thing of the past.
Technology committee members this week had a peek at the recently redesigned county site, scheduled to go on line June 2.
Application Development Manager Sandy Modesitt presented the preview, going over some of its new features.
A set of menu tabs will stretch across the top of the page, enabling visitors to reach the data they need more quickly and easily than they can now. Modesitt said an “I want to” pull-down will ease navigation, and those who know what they’re after will find it without having to look far.
“We recognize that a lot of people come to the site for courts or property information,” Modesitt said, pointing out designated pages for that data.
Also given their own tabs are the County Board and other elected officials, jobs postings, county services and news items.
Using a general calendar, site users can apply filters to see specific kinds of events. They also can register to receive RSS feeds automatically through email.
The property lookup page provides links to information using addresses or property identification numbers. From there, users can connect to assessment histories, tax bills — presented in itemized and pie-chart forms — interactive maps and other features.
Committee chairman Brien Sheahan said input on the updated site will be welcome, and Modesitt added that suggestions can be submitted to the webmaster anonymously.
“One thing to keep in mind is there’s no reason for this thing to be static,” Sheahan said.
Redraw of DuPage County Maps Draws Comments from Public
Public hearing participants favor map known as “May 18.”
A handful of DuPage residents expressed opinions about two plans detailing new County Board lines, but they largely backed one map during a redistricting public hearing with the DuPage County Board Redistricting Committee Monday night.
Residents supported the map known as “May 18” because it does not divide Lombard between county Districts 2 and 4.
Carol Davis, a Villa Park resident and chairman of York Township Democratic Organization, said the maps should represent the people’s interests and not become politically safe districts for incumbents. She said approving the “May 18” map (named based of the date it was submitted) will give the people of Lombard greater representation.
That was the opinion voiced by Lombard resident Michael Ledonne, a former candidate for the College of DuPage Board of Trustees. Ledonne said if the map known as “May 17” is approved by the board, Lombard, which is one of the most populous towns in the county, would not likely be able to elect its own representative to the County Board. He said the voting strength of Lombard would be diluted, and the likely representative would come from a more populous area.
“Please consider the people of Lombard and York (Township),” Ledonne said.
Currently, the county Redistricting Committee only has two maps to work with, said Patrick O’Shea, Redistricting Committee chairman.
Kevin Fitzpatrick of Lombard echoed Ledonne saying the “May 17” map will disenfranchise 5,000 Lombard voters. He said if the 18 members of the County Board approve the “May 17” map it will only make 18 people happy, but will leave thousands of residents unhappy.
While the majority of the speakers overwhelmingly supported the “May 18” map, some residents said that plan would divide the village of Lisle between county Districts 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
Currently, there are six political districts making up the County Board. Every 10 years, the political lines must be redrawn to account for population shifts recorded in the U.S. Census. Each of the six districts in the state’s second biggest county must be drawn so that 152,821 people live in each.
New Census data shows the largest population growth was around Naperville, which is in county District 5. That district will have to lose 12,000 people, which means other county districts will have to absorb those numbers.
In addition to criticism of the maps, some residents chose to criticize the board’s methods. Maryam Judar, an attorney with the Citizen Advocacy Center in Elmhurst, said she appreciated the efforts to have public hearings on country redistricting but believes the commissioners could do more. She criticized that the “act of map making happened behind closed doors.”
“The transparency has been between the board members and not the public,” Judar said.
Missy Wilhelm, president of the League of Women Voters of Wheaton, said the board represents the people and “should not carve out uncompetitive districts where no one can run against them.”
Board members have held hearings in the six county districts, but some are still scheduled. O’Shea said the board will not make a decision until those other public hearings are held.
While the board is working on its version of the map, County Board Chairman Dan Cronin (R-Elmhurst) also has the ability to draw a map as he sees fit. In past media reports, Cronin shared a vision of nine county districts with two members from each district, as opposed to the current model of three members from six districts.
Cronin told the Redistricting Committee it is important for them to keep the county districts “compact and contiguous.”
Children’s Memorial Hospital — and its little patients — plan a very delicate move
May 23, 2011
On a Saturday in June 2012, starting around 6 a.m. and lasting for up to 16 hours, a brigade of ambulances will shuttle as many as 200 critically ill children through the city, lights flashing and sirens blaring.
They’ll travel from their beds at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park to the new Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Streeterville, with medical staff and police executing careful plans to move them quickly and safely. Overseeing with walkie-talkie in hand will be Maureen Mahoney, Children’s chief transition officer, presiding from a command center in the new location.
While many Chicagoans have heard about the new hospital, few have considered the logistics of actually relocating that many sick kids. For the past three years, Ms. Mahoney, 48, of Niles, has thought of little else.
“We tend to get the sickest patients,” she says, “and that’s why we have to plan so carefully for a meticulous move. If you don’t need to be in the hospital, we’re not going to have you in the hospital on the day of the patient move. So the children who are going to be there that we have to move, they’re going to have to be there for a reason, and they’re pretty sick.”
Ms. Mahoney’s planning extends far beyond the actual day of the move, June 9, 2012. She’s overseen the training and orientation program for the 5,000-person staff and coordinated the input of stakeholders advising on the new hospital’s design. Her job is not just to move the patients but to ensure the new 23-floor facility is ready to receive them the moment paramedics and emergency medical technicians wheel them in from the ambulance bays. The hospital plans to do a dry run in January to identify any glitches and reassure anxious parents.
“We want to instill confidence in the families that we have a very well-thought-out plan that we’ve tested, that their babies are in good hands with us,” she says.
On June 9, both old and new hospitals will be fully staffed; the transition team is working with state regulators to make sure that, for one day only, it’s licensed to operate two hospitals. Up to 10 ambulances per hour will travel east on Fullerton Avenue to Lake Shore Drive, then south to Chicago Avenue. Police likely will be stationed at key intersections to shepherd ambulances through. The far right lane of Lake Shore may be coned off, as well.
The hospital has even contacted churches along the route so they can alert couples planning weddings that sirens will be sounding throughout the day.
“There are so many moving parts to this, there are so many plates spinning on sticks, it’s ridiculous,” says Karl Maurer, a member of two Children’s advisory boards. “When you have to move 200 critically sick kids, when you have to stop sending ambulances to one place and start sending them to another and open up a million-square-foot facility and close down another one, and you’ve got to do this with people’s lives at stake? …I just hope (others) appreciate the gravity of what Maureen’s taken on.”
Patients range from infants to those in their early 20s, with most preschool age or younger. They’re being treated for everything from broken bones to cancer, cardiac anomalies or neurological disorders. On average, patients stay six days; staffers refer to children who return regularly for treatment as their “frequent fliers.” These patients know where the playroom is in the 50-year-old current facility; they feel secure walking the familiar hallways while connected to IV drips.
“They’re very comfortable in the space,” Ms. Mahoney says. Even though she believes they’ll be “blown away” by the amenities of the new environment, “for some of our patients who’ve been here a long time, and their families, the change is going to be a little bit difficult.”
Each child will have a personalized moving plan. Doctors will determine in advance the type of equipment and the number of caregivers needed in each ambulance. One parent will be allowed to ride with each child.
Ranna Rozenfeld, 49, is medical director of Children’s transport team, which moves patients when other hospitals refer them to Children’s. When moving the critically ill from a bed to a stretcher, there’s always a risk of dislodging breathing tubes or catheters, she says. So a transport nurse, trained to watch for such mishaps, will accompany every child on moving day. Some children, including those recovering from open-heart surgery and tracheostomies, also will be accompanied by a surgeon.
Ahead of time, Ms. Mahoney says, staff will use booklets or videos to prepare children one-on-one for the big day. They will show photographs or cartoons of an ambulance and a child on a stretcher to help young patients visualize what will happen on moving day, prompt questions and head off fears.
Ms. Mahoney’s background made her a “natural fit” to handle all this, says retired Children’s Chief Operating Officer Gordon Bass, who appointed her to the position. She worked at Children’s as a nurse from 1984 to 1995, when she moved into the role of patient relations representative. In 2006, she became the liaison between the hospital’s clinical staff and the architects designing the new building.
When a part-time employee faltered during the rollout of a new patient and family satisfaction program, Ms. Mahoney made more than 150 presentations for hospital staff by herself, says Mr. Bass, 63.
“She travels in all circles across the medical center,” he says. “She’s down in the trenches, and she’s up in the board meetings. And she might be nervous as can be getting her presentation ready, but boy, when she gets on stage, she hits that mark, and you’d never know for a second that she had any anxiety.”
Though she’s worked in administration for 16 years, Ms. Mahoney still thinks of herself as a nurse, an identity that informs her daily decisions. It proved essential during the design of the neonatal intensive care unit, says Sherri Ewing, Children’s associate chief nurse executive. Unlike in the old hospital, the new neonatal ICU has private rooms for all its patients. But nurses worried that they wouldn’t be able to see or shout for another nurse as easily.
Ms. Mahoney understood. She mediated between them and the architects, resulting in an ICU with lower walls and more glass. “Maureen really helped to push the architects to think differently about how the space could be designed,” Ms. Ewing says.
MAKING IT RIGHT
Mr. Maurer’s association with Children’s began when his son was born with neurological, cardiac and orthopedic difficulties. When he joined the family advisory board and later the new building advisory committee, Ms. Mahoney urged him to speak up at meetings, flat-out telling him at one point, “You’re not here as window dressing.”
So he mentioned that the furniture could be improved. During one of his son’s 10 surgeries, Mr. Maurer, 50, of New Lenox, tried to sleep on a lumpy fold-out chair borrowed from “some corner of hell.” In response, Ms. Mahoney scheduled an advisory board meeting to try out furniture prototypes. Board members picked a model they liked except for a few features. Ms. Mahoney negotiated with the manufacturer to tweak the design for no extra cost.
The drive to get feedback from so many different places hasn’t been without challenges. There have been numerous committees, with many people on them, all offering input. That’s part of the reason planning began so early.
Even some pint-sized advisers have weighed in. Early word from children was that the planned giant wildlife images were too scary-looking. The animals were scaled down, made more playful and placed in familiar Chicago settings (such as a hippo family bathing in Buckingham Fountain).
This detailed level of planning has meant a punishing workload. Ms. Mahoney says she works 10 to 12 hours a day and keeps a notepad by her bed to write down to-do items as they pop into her head. Her husband provides moral support, and she’s looking forward to their upcoming trip to Hawaii to celebrate their 10-year anniversary. They don’t have kids themselves: “I get all of my gratification from the children here,” Ms. Mahoney says.
The stress, she says, was an expected part of taking on the job; the mitigating factor is knowing the new facility will serve patients for decades to come. The hospital has outgrown its current 700,000 square feet; the new one will be 1.25 million square feet, packed with $85 million in new equipment and close to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the other medical facilities around Chicago Avenue, a factor expected to improve care for critically ill newborns and strengthen possibilities for research collaboration with Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
“It’s going to be really cool when I see the first ambulance leave Children’s,” Ms. Mahoney says. “I think my heart will skip a beat.”