Gov. Quinn joins officials to mark completion of Center for Care and Discovery

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn joined other state and local officials to help dedicate the University of Chicago Medicine’s new state-of the-art, 1.2 million-square-foot Center for Care and Discovery on Monday.

The ceremony marked completion of one the nation’s most modern clinical and surgical centers dedicated to specialty care in areas such as cancer, gastrointestinal disease, neuroscience and advanced surgery and high-tech medical imaging. The Center for Care and Discovery, which will open to patients on Feb. 23, will boost Chicago’s profile as an international health care destination.

University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer and other institutional leaders welcomed Quinn, who praised the hospital project's impact in Illinois and beyond. The governor commended the University of Chicago Medicine for bringing more than 2,500 jobs to Illinois and helping to strengthen the state’s economy.

“The University of Chicago Medicine’s new Center for Care and Discovery is a national model for the future of health care facilities,” Governor Quinn said. “This state-of-the-art medical center has already created thousands of jobs in Illinois and will boost the University of Chicago’s standing as a national leader in health care research and quality.”

The dedication ceremony took place in the hospital’s Sky Lobby on the 7th Floor, which is a departure from typical hospital lobbies that sit on the street level. The Sky Lobby is an expansive space that offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, Lake Michigan and Washington Park and will serve as a welcoming hub for patients and other guests.

Other state officials at the dedication included House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn-Curie, Sen. Kwame Raoul, and Reps. Mary Flowers and Christian Mitchell. Also in attendance were Aldermen Edward Burke, Leslie Hairston and Willie Cochran, along with about 200 other guests.

Since ground was broken in 2009, the construction project has provided a significant lift to the state economy. The $700 million hospital project is estimated to be among the largest investments ever made on Chicago’s South Side.

Hospitals and health care systems in Illinois generate about $80 billion in economic activity each year, according to data from the Illinois Hospital Association. Between 2008 and 2011, while much of the Illinois labor market was shrinking, the health care sector added almost 40,000 jobs, according to the IHA.

More than 9,000 faculty and staff work on the medical campus, which includes the Biological Sciences Division, making the University of Chicago Medicine one of the city’s largest private employers. The new hospital is expected to bring roughly 300 new jobs to the University of Chicago Medicine campus.

University of Chicago Medicine officials noted how the structure embodies the institution’s commitment to the community, the city and the state.

“This facility was designed to serve the community for generations to come,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago Medicine and dean of the Biological Sciences Division and Pritzker School of Medicine. “The Center for Care and Discovery will continue our tradition of providing outstanding patient care, training the next generation of physicians, and pushing innovative research forward.”

In the final weeks before opening to patients, the new hospital will get a thorough cleaning. Training of faculty and staff, along with practice runs to simulate the patient experience, also will be held.

Sharon O'Keefe, president of the University of Chicago Medical Center, led the ceremonial ribbon cutting, with Ravi Salgia, MD, director of the Chest Oncology and Thoracic Oncology Research Program, and his patient, Anthony Palumbo, holding the ends of the band. O’Keefe echoed the significance of the day noted by others.

“When we open the doors to our first patients in just a few short weeks, it will mark a new era in care for complex conditions,” O’Keefe said. “But as remarkable as this building is, it’s our exceptional physicians and staff who will deliver the vision and promise of wonders to be accomplished here for decades to come.”

For more information on the Center for Care and Discovery, visit the new hospital's website.