A Publication of WTVP

It is July, and more than marking the midpoint of the summer, it marks a milestone for OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Illinois.

After nearly a decade of planning and fundraising—and three years of construction—what has been known as the Milestone Project is about to open its doors as the new Children’s Hospital of Illinois and OSF Saint Francis Medical Center during 10 days of grand opening events from July 9th to 18th, culminating in the Blessing and Dedication ceremony on July 16th, with the public getting its first chance to see the newest edition to our campus on July 17th and 18th. We will see our first patients in the new building in August, and the building will be fully occupied by September, when all of the units that call the building home will have moved into their new space.

As the Milestone Project moved along, at times, people would ask how we could justify a $280 million building project, especially when the economy took a hit. I respond this way:

First, nationally, the cost of construction on a healthcare institution’s bottom line—the bricks and mortar of a hospital—averages seven to nine percent of its budget. At Saint Francis, thanks to the guidance and forethought of the Sisters, bricks-and-mortar projects are between three and four percent of the total cost of care.

Secondly, the vision for the Milestone Project is the same as it was when the Sisters decided to spend $44 million on the Gerlach building in the early 1980s. Back then, when the need for more operating rooms was identified, we had nine and justified 19 because of the patient volume we were experiencing. Before Gerlach, we had seven rooms in our emergency department and justified the need for 17 rooms. We were seeing about 20,000 patients a year in our ED before Gerlach, which was built to handle about 33,000 patients a year—we now average about 74,000 patients through the doors of the ED each year, in addition to another 38,000 being treated at our three Prompt Care locations.

Where would we be today without the Gerlach building?

We are seeing the same trends now. The number of operations our physicians are performing and the number of trauma cases coming through our emergency department continue to increase. Baby boomers are driving the trends and growth rates. The fixes and new technological problems of today become the geriatric problems of tomorrow. We have to provide patient care services for a community that is living longer, so the question will now be “Where would we be without the Milestone Project?”

The mid-to-late ‘80s also saw the Sisters’ desire to bring the high quality of services offered at Saint Francis to the region. The increase in sub-specialty doctors available to the 2.2 million people throughout the 34-county region we serve now accounts for a third of the patients we treat each year.

One of the areas that benefits tremendously from that regional development is the Children’s Hospital of Illinois. The Milestone Project allows us to bring all Children’s Hospital inpatient services under one roof for the first time ever, and we couldn’t be more excited! What this will mean for family-centered patient care and safety cannot be fully put into words. The Jim & Trudy Maloof St. Jude Midwest Affiliate, for which we are truly thankful, is more than doubling the size of its clinic in the new building.

How could we build a new building when times got tough? I’ve used this metaphor on more than one occasion: Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. The Sisters have weathered many stormy times over the past 133 years and never wavered on their mission or ministry to care for every patient, every time with the greatest care and love.

We invite you to come share the Sisters’ joy and see what is in store for the future of healthcare in the Peoria area during our community open houses on July 17th and 18th. Learn more at iBi