The new bioterrorism preparedness area at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, evokes scenes ripped straight from the script of a Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster.
Regional News/Midwest: Prepare for disaster
Rush unveils bioterrorism preparedness addition
The area was designed to help deal with a catastrophic event, one that could lead to mass casualties. Construction began in September 2008, and the bioterrorism preparedness area sits on the ground of floor of new $654 million, 14-story addition scheduled to open in January. Hospital officials recently unveiled the bioterrorism preparedness area and the rest of the building to the media and dignitaries, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
As tour guides ushered guests from the brightly sunlit atrium, they moved into the advanced emergency response area, which includes 60 patient bays. An expanded emergency department is part of the area, and allows the hospital to best serve a massive wave of patients during a biological, chemical or radiological crisis. Rush officials added that it's the first such bioterrorism preparedness facility in the country. In the war against hospital-acquired infections, clean air is an ally, and part of the ED is a state-of-the-art ventilation system designed to keep contaminants away from patients lying in the center of the patient bay. The ventilation circulates what officials dub “operating room quality air” into the center of the room and then toward the walls. The ventilation system also can seal off contagions, confining them to the ED and preventing their spread.
Rush began a fundraising campaign in 2004 and raised more than $375 million toward the construction of the new 830,000-square-foot tower adjacent to its main building. The rest of the tab was paid with a mix of cash, $280 million of debt financing and various grants, including a $10 million capital grant from the state of Illinois to build the bioterrorism preparedness area.
Construction took more than 4,200 full-time workers, and the tower is part of a 10-year, $1 billion campus transformation plan. Emanuel lauded the development and job creation for the area.
Though Rush officials said clinicians delivered excellent care in the hospital, which was founded in 1837, they said the aging facility was in need of modernization. “Rush is venerable; it's one day older than the city of Chicago,” said Susan Crown, the hospital board vice chairwoman. “And several years ago we realized our facilities were unfortunately communicating that vintage.”
The building, set to open in January, also is certified as “Gold” by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, or LEED.
“We're really proud to be the first hospital in Chicago to achieve that,” Crown said.
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