Lurie Children's Hospital wants to pony up $51 million to add more beds to its crowded Streeterville facility in the heart of the Mag Mile in Chicago.
Plans call for adding 44 intensive-care beds to an existing 92. The specialty hospital, which treats the sickest children, also wants to add four neonatal intensive-care beds for babies, for a total of 64 NICU beds. The total number of beds would increase to 336.
Lurie, which partners with many community hospitals, said it's had a surge of children referred by providers in northeast Illinois in particular and has had to deny transfers, according to an application Lurie filed this month with state regulators.
“Patients and their families expect that care will be available” when they're referred to Lurie, the hospital said in its application to the Illinois Health Facilities & Services Review Board, which must approve the plan.
The hospital is adding beds at a time when many others have shrunk or eliminated their pediatric departments. Under Obamacare, doctors are paid to focus on prevention, leaving many hospital beds empty and fueling a wave of outpatient clinics and same-day surgery centers.
In 2014, Lurie converted 20 medical-surgical beds, the most common patient beds, to ICU beds.
Lurie attributes the increased appetite for its services to its partnerships with more than a dozen community hospitals. Those connections keep patients close to home, but they are sent downtown when they need more advanced care.
ICU patient days climbed 99% from 2009 to 2016, totaling 25,342 this fiscal year and exceeding state capacity standards. In the past six years, transports to Lurie have increased on average 7.2% per year.
Similar trends are happening among sick babies. Patient days in Lurie's NICU increased on average 7% a year since 2011.
In 2016, Lurie denied 112 requests for transports because it didn't have enough beds available, a trend the hospital expects will intensify, the application said.
Lurie plans to make way for the additional beds by renovating existing space. The project is estimated to be completed by Jan. 31, 2019.
"Lurie Children's eyes $51 million expansion" originally appeared in Crain's Chicago Business.