Rush University Medical Center to build $500 million outpatient center

Master design plan for its Near West Side campus aims for increased access to care.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

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Rush University Medical Center in Chicago has unveiled plans for a $500 million outpatient center, as well as an overhaul of existing facilities in an ongoing effort to renovate and expand.

The outpatient center will be one of the key new features on Rush's campus, as described in a document filed this week with the state of Illinois. It's part of the facility's master design plan for its Near West Side campus, with one of the primary goals being increased access to care for patients.

Dr. Larry Goodman, CEO of the nonprofit Rush University Medical Center and president of Rush University, said the organization is working to address both health and educational needs, as some of the campus-wide enhancements are designed to augment teaching programs and medical research.

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"Health care today is not about just having a leading academic medical center," said Goodman. "We are focused on being a leading academic health system."

He said the medical center is "putting all of the strategic pieces together" to have the best programs and highest value throughout its network.

Planning for the redevelopment will be completed next year, and will include input from employees, physicians and the broader community. Final plans and expenditures will require approval at the state level before construction begins.

Creation of the new outpatient building follows the construction of the hospital tower, built in 2012. The butterfly-shaped tower, which includes 664 beds, has received recognition for its unique architecture, and Peter Butler, president of Rush University Medical Center, said he expected the outpatient building to be innovative, as well.

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"By virtue of its design and flexible layout, the new building will enable enhancements in how we provide care for our patients," said Butler, citing as an example the ability of multiple specialists to tend to a patient efficiently in one visit.

While the outpatient building will be the centerpiece of the $500 million project, plans runs the gamut from high-rises to parking lots, student housing to research facilities. Goodman said the initiatives will not only help coordinate services for patients, but better prepare students for their eventual careers.

"We are excited to … bring the Rush vision to reality," said Goodman.

Some parts of Rush's plan, including the outpatient facility, will require the approval of state regulators. Rush will use a combination of revenue from operations, debt and fundraising to pay for the outpatient center, said spokesperson Deb Song.

University and academic facilities will also get a makeover. Rush and the Chicago Blackhawks NHL team are now in the process of securing land currently occupied by Malcolm X College, which will be moving to a new home next year. Rush is eyeing the property as a means of addressing a number of academic needs, such as new teaching and study space, additional research space and student housing.

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The Malcolm X site is also adjacent to other Rush properties, which provides an opportunity for the medical center to connect the properties into a more cohesive campus.

Goodman hopes that will make the facility more visible to the community, as well as enhance its academic mission.

"We need to invest in facilities and technology to support new models of education" while considering the needs of students and faculty, he said.

Twitter: @JELagasse

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