Northwestern Medicine aims for $389M Lake Forest hospital expansion

Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board will consider plans

State officials are considering Northwestern Medicine’s proposed $389 million expansion of a Lake Forest hospital that would add almost 100 new beds to meet growing demand.

Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital applied to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to expand and modernize the property at 1000 North Westmoreland Road, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The project, which could get the green light to move forward as soon as June, calls for a new 290,000-square-foot building with 96 inpatient beds, including 12 intensive care beds, which would almost double the hospital’s total bed count up to 210. As part of the project, Northwestern would also relocate and expand the hospital’s emergency department, imaging equipment and rehabilitation services.

The health care system said the new development is needed because of high occupancy hitting the hospital even before the pandemic, driven in part by the closure of the Vista Medical Center West in Waukegan several years ago, which prompted many patients to transfer to the Lake Forest hospital.

It’s at least the fourth Chicago-area proposal in the works at nine-figure costs by health systems seeking to expand or extend their campuses. Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center is planning a $645 million modernization of its Lakeview facility in Chicago that would add four stories to an outpatient building, erect new structures and raze others. And University of Chicago Medicine has plans to build a $633 million, 500,000 square-foot cancer hospital in Hyde Park, meant to provide more health care access on the city’s South Side and free up beds at its main hospital.

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Meanwhile, construction is wrapping up on Rush University Medical Center’s $450 million outpatient and neurosciences center that broke ground near its Near West Side headquarters in 2019.

Northwestern also has another development moving forward, after applying for a separate $163 million project to bring a new outpatient medical office to Bronzeville. Those plans call for a 127,000-square-foot building on the 4800 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue in Chicago that will include specialty care, urgent care, lab space and a diagnostic center.

The health care system is also working to add 19 stories to its Streeterville biomedical research center at 303 East Superior Street, a project funded in part by a $64 million gift from a trustee of Northwestern University, Kimberly K. Querrey, and a trust associated with her late husband Louis Simpson, who was Warren Buffett’s stock picker.

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— Victoria Pruitt