NEW LENOX, Ill. — LaVerne and Dorothy Brown, of Joliet, Ill., served Wednesday, Feb. 8, as the first official patients at the new Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, Ill.
The New Lenox hospital will open officially Sunday, Feb. 26, to replace the original Joliet location.
"The doctor did a good job this morning taking our blood pressure," Dorothy said.
She then thanked a crowd of employees, board members, physicians and nurses that came to witness the historic event.
"It's a beautiful hospital," LaVerne said to the audience. "I'm sure you'll treat it as such."
The couple was then taken up to the fifth floor of the new facility, where their $1 million donation was used.
In 2010, the Browns pledged their second $1 million gift to Silver Cross to support the construction of the new Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's inpatient rehabilitation unit. In 2002, the couple helped finance the LaVerne and Dorothy Brown Cardiovascular Institute at Silver Cross.
"We have always believed in Silver Cross Hospital's mission to provide quality health care services to out community," Dorothy said. "We have first-hand experience of the wonderful care given in the hospital's rehabilitation unit, and we want to make sure that the nurses and doctors will have the latest equipment to care for other patients recovering from serious illnesses and injuries in the new hospital."
Two years ago, Silver Cross partnered with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the No. 1 service provider for 20 years in a row, nationally, said Mary Bakken, chief operations officer and executive vice president at Silver Cross.
In the RIC, Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit is the state-of-the-art Ability Achievement Center.
"This will be for patients who perhaps have had a stroke, or perhaps have been in a motor vehicle accident, and need to do some therapy to help them be ready to return home," Bakken said.
In the Achievement Center, patients will perform exercises as well as relearn and practice daily living activities, such as washing laundry, working in the kitchen and getting in and out of a motor vehicle.
"These are things that are important to return to independent living," Bakken said.
There is a small gym at the old facility in Joliet, but the new unit has many more opportunities to work on daily living skills.
Patients also have a large window to look out of in the Achievement Center.
"They probably get the best view in the whole building," Bakken said.
From the Achievement Center, to the northeast, patients will be able to see the Willis Tower on clear days.
Windows were an important consideration when designing the inpatient rooms. Bakken said larger windows allow more natural light to enter the rooms, something that has been proven to aid the healing process.
Other features in the inpatient rooms include wood decor to give the hospital a "hotel-like and homey" atmosphere, a flat-screen TV with patient-education channels, a communication board to display patient information on, such as plans for the day and care team members, a private locker area for patient belongings and a sleeper-sofa for visiting family members.
"We will have 24-hour visiting hours," Bakken said. "So it's a very open environment for families to stay with their loved ones in the hospital."
There are 289 inpatient rooms, all of which are private, at 305 square feet.
The new Silver Cross replacement hospital will host a Grand Opening Ceremony from 11 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12.
The community is invited to a 45-minutes self-guided tour through several areas in the hospital. There will also be musical entertainment and performing artist,s including the Eloquence Singers from Carl Sandburg High School, the Joliet Folk Lorico Dancers, the Lincoln-Way West High School Chorale and Mr. Zion Baptist Church Music Ministry.
The hospital staff is expecting between 6,000 and 8,000 visitors Sunday.
Exactly two weeks later, patients will be moved from the old facility in Joliet to the replacement hospital in New Lenox, care of Kurtz Ambulance Service.
The move will begin at 7 a.m. and is expected to take 12 hours.
Patients in need of emergency service after 7 a.m. Feb. 26 should go to the New Lenox location. Patients in Joliet before 7 a.m. that day will receive a medical screening and be treated, discharged or transferred to the new Emergency Department in New Lenox or treated and admitted to the new hospital.
The Free-Standing Emergency Care Center at 143rd and Bell Road in Homer Glen, Ill., will also be open Feb. 26 for all patients regardless of illness or injury.