Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital has pushed back the target opening of a new women's hospital by two years, to 2007, amid project changes that would boost its planned capacity by 45%.
The new building, with 170 patient beds, would replace the 654-bed hospital's Prentice Women's Hospital, which is a block from the main hospital building, and would be erected on the site of one of the hospital's former patient towers. Not-for-profit Northwestern opened a new 492-bed inpatient tower, which is connected to a new outpatient tower, in May 1999.
Almost nine months of the project delay resulted from a prolonged effort to look into using space at a U.S. Veterans Affairs hospital that is adjacent to the Northwestern medical campus, said hospital spokeswoman Kelly Sullivan. Planning for a new building halted during that inquiry, but because the fate of the VA hospital is still uncertain, Northwestern officials ultimately opted to forge ahead and construct the new hospital on their own site.
Residential growth in the neighborhood around the campus also has slowed the project, Sullivan said. The proposed size of the hospital has grown to 170 beds from 117 beds when the project was announced in July 1999 because projections for the number of births keep rising, she said. At Prentice, about 9,000 babies are delivered each year, and the original plans for the replacement hospital would have provided space for only about 10,000 births. The new plan would allow for 12,000 to 13,000 births annually, she said.
The price tag for the women's hospital will be higher than the earlier budget of $200 million, but Sullivan could not provide an estimate. Northwestern received preliminary approval from the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board in January but will have to present more detailed plans to win certificate-of-need approval.
The two-year delay beyond the original target opening of 2005 doesn't imply any hesitation on Northwestern's part, Sullivan said.