Moving patients to new children's hospital a challenge

June 8, 2012 (CHICAGO)

There are no typical hospital moves. But, after years of planning, medical transport experts at Children's believe they have the best plan possible.

It is only about a 3 1/2 mile trek between the Lincoln Park location to the new Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Streeterville. But it is a trip that is far from simple. Nothing is being left to chance.

There is no one manual on how to move a hospital. But in 2007, Children's Hospital in Denver left town and moved eight miles to Aurora, Colorado. In one day they transported more than 110 very sick children by ambulance, many needing complicated equipment to keep them alive.

Everything went as planned. And, it turns out, medical transport experts from Chicago were in Colorado to take notes.

Starting at 6 a.m. Saturday morning it is Chicago's turn. An estimated 160 very ill children will begin the trek by ambulance down Fullerton to Lake Shore Drive then to Chicago Avenue. The trip could take anywhere from 15 to 90 minutes depending on the patient's medical situation.

The less precarious job of packing and transporting supplies and equipment from the old hospital to the new has been under way all week. Across town, at the new 23-story kid-friendly facility, they were putting on the finishing touches.

Working out the confusion of so much new space has also been part of the process. At the last minute a blue wave was added, not so much to spruce up the décor, but as a guide to help visitors find their way.

"We found that it would be difficult for families to navigate our emergency room," said a hospital spokesperson. "So we were able to get the help from an artist who drew a beautiful wave that will help us tell the children to follow the wave and you will find the nurse."

Both hospitals will have their ER departments open until the move is completed. That could take anywhere from 10 to 18 hours.

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