The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago has plans to expand the highly in-demand hospital’s capacity with a $51 million infusion of funding. The Streeterville building, in the midst of the Mag Mile, is seriously overcrowded, and can use the extra beds under consideration.
The plan proposes to add 44 beds to the already 92 that serve the intensive-care unit. The hospital would also like to add four more beds to the neonatal intensive-care division to 60 NICU beds that are there now. The total number of beds in this specialty hospital, which treats the area’s most ill children, would rise to 336.
The application Lurie filed last month with state regulators said that the hospital, which partners with many community hospitals, has been fielding an increase in children referred by health care providers is northeast Illinois to the point where they have been forced to refuse transfers.
The hospital wants to add beds at a moment in history when other hospitals are downsizing their pediatric departments, if not eliminating them altogether. Because the Affordable Care Act puts more of an emphasis on prevention, many hospital beds are empty, while there has been a growth in the number of outpatient clinics and same-day surgery facilities.
Lurie hospital says that demand for its services has climbed because of its partnerships with over a dozen community hospitals. If the patients can be kept in those local community hospitals, they are. But if they need more sophisticated or intense care, they are then sent to the downtown hospital.
In 2014 Lurie switched 20 medical-surgical beds, the most common type of hospital bed, to ICU beds. In 2016 Lurie had to turn away 112 requests for patient transports because of lack of beds.
The additional beds will be added by renovating existing hospital space, with completion of the projected expected to be by January 31, 2019.