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Northwestern Memorial Hospital proposes $77 million project to reduce ER congestion

More than 3,000 patients a year leave before being seen because they’re tired of waiting, according to the hospital, which says a lack of ER capacity also means it sometimes turns away ambulances.

A nurse who warned about unsafe masks and was fired is suing Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital has proposed a $77.6 million project that would add 49 beds in hopes of relieving congestion in its emergency department.
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Northwestern Memorial Hospital wants to add 49 beds and build a three-story connector between two buildings in a $77.6 million plan it says would decrease emergency department congestion.

More than 3,000 patients a year leave Northwestern before being seen because they’re tired of waiting, according to the hospital’s proposal to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board. The hospital also says a lack of ER capacity also means it sometimes turns away ambulances, directing them to other hospitals.

The lack of beds also limits how many patients can transfer to the hospital for specialty treatment, according to the proposal, filed Jan. 31.

Even as many hospitals nationwide have been reducing the number of beds they have in the face of financial pressures and a greater emphasis on outpatient care, Northwestern wants to add 24 intensive-care beds and 25 more for medical and surgical patients. These would increase the hospital’s bed capacity to 943.

The plan also includes building a three-story connector between the Feinberg and Galter pavilions on the hospital’s campus in River North.

The hospital says the added beds would allow “more timely transfer of patients from the emergency department to inpatient units,” and the new connector “will help transfer patients, supplies, equipment and meals between the two buildings with more efficiency.”

The work would be finished in December 2022.

The review board will accept requests for a hearing on the proposal until Feb. 19 and take written comments until June 10, ahead of the plan coming before the board on June 30.

Click here to read Nov. 1, 2019, story on ambulance diversions in Chicago.
Click here to read Nov. 1, 2019, story on ambulance diversions in Chicago.