Introducing the new University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital

Introducing the new University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital

January 28, 2005

A special ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 31, 2005, to celebrate the upcoming opening of the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, the newest pediatric hospital in the city.

The $135-million facility, designed to be at the forefront of pediatric care, provides a state-of-the-art, family-focused environment for all in-patient pediatric services at the University of Chicago Hospitals.

The new hospital is named after Gary C. Comer, founder of the Lands' End clothing-catalogue company, and his wife, Frances, who together donated $21 million to help build the facility. This matches the largest donation ever presented to the University of Chicago Hospitals. It's the fourth largest naming gift to any children's hospital in the United States.

Construction began on the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital in 2001. The 242,000-square-foot, 155-bed, seven-story building is home to nationally recognized programs in cardiology, neurology, neonatology, transplantation and other medical and surgical specialties. It's more than twice the size of the current children's hospital, which covers 95,000 square feet and has 140 beds.

Chicago Comer Children's Hospital extends north to south from 57th Street to 58th Street, and east to west from Drexel Avenue to Maryland Avenue. It's 354 feet long and 133 feet wide. Bridges, tunnels and walkways connect it to the Bernard A. Mitchell Hospital, the adult in-patient facility, and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, which houses both the outpatient pediatric and adult specialty clinics.

"We couldn't have done this without the tremendous support of Gary and Frances Comer," said Michael Riordan, president and chief executive officer of the University of Chicago Hospitals. "Their generous donation enables Chicago Comer Children's Hospital to be the best in providing pediatric health care."

The new hospital provides the optimal setting for the rapidly advancing technologies of pediatric medicine. It includes two 30-bed medical/surgical units, predominantly private rooms. It includes a two-story, 30-bed pediatric intensive care unit, more than twice the capacity of the current unit. The neonatal intensive care unit, at 55 beds, already one of the largest in the Midwest, expanded to 65 beds and doubled the space per bed. The new hospital has six surgical suites, with operating rooms, 21 preoperative areas and recovery rooms designed to suit the specific needs of pediatric and newborn surgical patients.

"The University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital is a remarkable synthesis of form and function. Doctors, nurses, parents and even the children we treat contributed to the design process," said Steve A. N. Goldstein, MD, PhD, chairman of the department of pediatrics and physician-in-chief of the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital. "The result is a light, cheerful, inviting space that contains the most advanced diagnostic, medical and surgical technology in the world. In Chicago's Comer Children's Hospital we will provide health care in an environment designed so that our children and their families feel safe, positive and at-home."

Designed for Family-Focused Care

Chicago Comer Children's Hospital unites advanced technology with a family-focused, kid-friendly philosophy embraced at the University of Chicago Children's Hospital. Two architecture firms worked together to design Chicago Comer Children's Hospital. Stanley Beaman & Sears, based in Atlanta, was responsible for the building's exterior. A team from the Chicago office of HLM Design planned the hospital's interior. Design input also came from doctors, nurses and staff as well as patients and their families.

The result was a hospital where children and their families have a level of control over their environment. Patient rooms are big enough to accommodate family members--308 square feet, compared to the 177 square feet of the current children's hospital--and include a pullout sofa bed for parents and flat-screen TVs from which children can access on-demand movies, music, appropriate Web sites and e-mail. Patients can regulate the climate and lighting of their rooms and adjust the height of the showerhead in their bathroom. They also can order food from a menu and have it delivered similar via "room service" style.

Herbert T. Abelson, MD, George M. Eisenberg Professor and former chairman of the department of pediatrics at the University of Chicago Hospitals, funded the Health Professions Library, located on the first floor. It provides resources for the hospital's multidisciplinary staff.

"The University of Chicago Children's Hospital has been a beacon for our community. It was just a small way for my wife and me to give back to the Hospitals and the department."

The Family Care Center, located on the second floor near the neonatal intensive care unit, provides accommodations for families facing longer stays. The center includes eight private sleeping rooms with private bathrooms and showers, laundry facilities and a vending machine area. A family kitchen is located on the sixth floor.

The Family Learning Center is a resource area for adults on the main floor. It provides computers with Internet access, books, videos, and other tools for learning about childhood health and illnesses. The center offers educational and supportive services that include training for post-hospital care, preventive and wellness education, information about recreational opportunities, and places to stay in the Chicago area as well as reading games, computer games and videos for patients and their siblings.

A 5,000-square-foot outdoor playground provides challenging, yet accessible play equipment for children of all abilities. Small play areas also can be found inside the hospital on floors three through six. The largest indoor play area--the Family Central Playroom--is on the main floor.

A 6,000-square-foot Healing Garden, located on Chicago Comer Children's Hospital's fourth floor, will be completed in 2006. It will provide a therapeutic environment where patients, families and staff can find relief from stress.

Patients will move into the new hospital in February.