Advocate Christ Medical Center’s new East Patient Tower (Oak Lawn, Ill.) serves two critical needs identified by the health system during master planning and ED optimization assessments: Expansion of intensive care capacity to accommodate increased emergency and cardiovascular admissions and consolidation of birthing and neonatal services into a state-of-the-art women and infants center.

Opened in January 2016, the eight-story 326,000-square-foot patient tower has a 36-room medical intensive care unit (ICU); a 36-room cardiovascular ICU; and a 24-unit birthing center with three operating rooms and 48 postpartum units. The public level houses food service, a chapel, and outdoor dining and meditation spaces.

The women and infants center offers modern amenities, including private high-risk rooms, high-tech C-section suites with advanced medical technology and multiple births capacity, and post-delivery suites with Internet access, flat-screen TVs, and a dedicated family area.

Throughout the facility, a decentralized nursing model allows views of every patient and shortens distances for patient care. Technology is integrated into the facility to help connect staff to patients and each other and allow for remote patient monitoring.

One project challenge design firm CannonDesign (Chicago) sought to address was helping Advocate create an updated urban image. The dated, undersized main entry to the campus didn’t reflect its status as a prominent care site on Chicago’s south side. Additionally, traffic and pedestrian safety had been compromised by years of incremental development and lack of green spaces and community respite.

The new tower, positioned at the threshold of the inpatient side of campus, was conceived and executed as the fulcrum of a new campus plan and gateway, presenting an opportunity to reinvigorate the inpatient and visitor experiences despite the modest square footage.

The hospital’s main entry, main parking link, and central ground floor corridors were reorganized to give the campus an uplifting and more appropriately urban image while adding green space and simplifying main circulation routes to make them more intuitive.