In the last few decades, much has changed in the way nurses and the rest of the team at St. Alexius Medical Center have delivered care to hundreds of women and children.
But while technology and care techniques have advanced, the amount of space in which that care is delivered in the neonatal and pediatric units, and the labor and delivery rooms, among others on the hospitals campus in northwest suburban Hoffman Estates, has not kept pace.
That will change later this year when the Alexian Brothers Hospital Network opens its new Womens and Childrens Hospital on the St. Alexius Medical Center campus.
The opening of the six-story, $117 million addition at St. Alexius marks the culmination of years of planning, development and fundraising for Arlington Heights-based Alexian Brothers.
Executives at the hospital said the completion of the project also represents the fulfillment of a huge team effort, involving contractors, architects and designers who brought to life a vision laid out by Alexian Brothers staff from top health system administrators to the staff nurses.
“This has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Joan Cappelletti, RN-BC, MSN, MSML, St. Alexius executive director of nursing.
The new facility will offer all private patient rooms, as well as amenities to enhance the comfort of patients and visitors, including “family areas” in each of the 32 new mother-baby rooms, with a refrigerator and space for another support person to sleep.
While units share floors in the current hospital, each unit will get its own floor in the new building, Cappelletti said.
Pediatrics and the PICU, for instance, will occupy the second floor, while the NICU will have its own space on the fourth floor.
The new facility will allow the hospital to enhance its services to expectant and delivering mothers, with more labor-and-delivery rooms and operating rooms in the labor-and-delivery area.
Cappelletti and other nursing administrators said the layout of the new facility, and a number of the choices in design and amenities, were the result of the input of nurses as well as a family advisory board that included mothers and fathers of children who had received care at St. Alexius.
She said the design and review process began three years ago.
Korina Sanchez, RN, BSN, and director of St. Alexius NICU, said nursing directors and select staff nurses participated for weeks in a painstaking process to attend to just about every detail of patient rooms in each of the new units.
She and Pamela Jorgenson, RN, BSN, CPN, assistant director of pediatrics at St. Alexius, lauded contractors who took the time in January and February 2012 to construct mock-ups of the various patient rooms and then allowed 14 nursing teams to essentially redesign the rooms to fit the needs of patients and the healthcare providers.
The contractors even transported the actual equipment nurses would be using into the mock-up rooms, to allow nurses to move their tools and furniture around, to show the building team how best to lay out the rooms.
Each time the nurses finished reviewing the mock-up rooms, the rooms would be full of sticky notes on the walls, floors, windows, light fixtures, furniture and other elements, Sanchez said.
“Wed do it, then they would go back and redesign the rooms,” Jorgenson said. “And wed come back and do it again, each time with a few more tweaks.
“They were very patient,” she added with a laugh.
The nurses who participated in the room reviews also led meetings later with other staff nurses, to share news and gather feedback on the process.
Sanchez and Jorgenson said the new spaces will improve patient care, as well as nurses work environment, placing them closer to the patients and putting their tools nearer at hand.
Jonathan Bilyk is a freelance writer.