“It is a great pleasure this morning to welcome you to our university and to share this groundbreaking ceremony as a celebration of the future and as a sign of our strength and momentum as a university and health care delivery system, even during these unprecedented times,” Chancellor Michael Amiridis said at a ceremonial groundbreaking at the University of Illinois Chicago campus today.
The event celebrated the commencement of construction activities for the Outpatient Surgery Center and Specialty Clinics building, which is the first new building for university’s academic and clinical health enterprise, called UI Health, since 2014.
The event included remarks by University of Illinois Board Trustee Dr. Stuart King, University of Illinois System President Timothy Killeen, and Illinois Senate President Donald Harmon, among others.
“We are so lucky to have the University of Illinois System as a flagship of higher education and health care,” said Harmon, who represents Illinois’ 39th District. Harmon said the pandemic has reminded everyone of the need to expand access to health care, and that “this is the right project, at the right time.”
“Lives will be improved and even saved here. Doctors and nurses will be trained here. And facilities pressure created by the growing demand for the kind of care already offered by our medical professionals will be eased elsewhere within UI Health. The new center will also be an important tool in helping the U of I System fulfill its land-grant mission, to serve the state of Illinois and its people, to make their lives better, more prosperous and full of possibility,” said Killeen.
Also in attendance at the event were Illinois Sen. Omar Aquino, 2nd District; Illinois Rep. Theresa Mah, 2nd District; Illinois Rep. Lakesia Collins, 9th District; Chicago Alderman Walter Burnett Jr., 27th Ward; and Michael O’Keefe, managing director at Ankura, a Chicago-based firm consulting on the project.
UIC Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Dr. Robert Barish said, “As the state’s public, academic health enterprise, we have a distinct responsibility to translate the exceptional research and training of our university into outstanding patient care to better meet the needs of communities across Illinois and beyond. The Outpatient Surgery Center and Specialty Clinics will expand our capacity to deliver upon this promise — allowing for even greater access for patients who turn to us for their health needs.”
The new building will include six floors of patient care space, including eight operating and eight procedure rooms, 48 pre- and post-surgery bays, clinic space for GI, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, transplant and urology clinics and a pharmacy.
According to Barish, these specialty clinics have outgrown their current space due to increasing patient demand for these services, which are among some of UI Health’s top-ranked clinical programs.
The new building also will serve as an important economic driver for the state and the health care system’s local communities, said Mike Zenn, CEO of the University of Illinois Hospital and Clinics.
Construction of the building, which is contracted to Pepper/Brown and Momen Construction, will employ approximately 500 individuals over the course of the two-year project, and approximately 30% of construction costs will be spent with local minority, women, persons with disabilities and veteran-owned business, he said.
“This is a significant undertaking to support not just the communities, but the economic health of communities — not just medical health, but economic health,” Zenn said.
“Operations of the new building and expanded clinical services will create an estimated more than 100 full-time positions. The majority of these new jobs will be for positions that are part of the university’s collective bargaining units,” he said. “That is also our commitment to the health of our communities and the health of our constituents. All of this gives us a better platform to address the community health needs and continue our service as a market share leader in the core 26 ZIP codes that include communities throughout the West and South sides of Chicago. It is a significant tool in our drive to address the inequities of access which are at the core of disparities in health outcomes, of which we are all well aware.”
The building will be constructed through a public-private partnership between UIC and Provident Resources Group, a 501(c)(3) corporation. Provident will finance nearly three-quarters of the cost of the $194 million building through tax-exempt bonds and lease the facility to UI Health during the 30-year term of the bonds.
Additional funding will come from the health system and private philanthropy. In November 2019, Bruno and Sallie Pasquinelli pledged $10 million through the Pasquinelli Family Foundation for the project. The contribution supports IGNITE: The Campaign for UIC and its goals to expand access to comprehensive, compassionate health care for populations across the State of Illinois. The commitment is the campaign’s largest gift to date.
Completion of the project is expected in 2022.
This is the second UIC building constructed under a public-private partnership. The UIC Academic and Residential Complex opened in July 2019.
More information about the UI Health Outpatient Surgery Center and Specialty Clinics building is available online.
Additional remarks from the speakers:
Dr. Stuart King University of Illinois Board Trustee
“Never before has the University of Illinois System’s health care enterprise been more critical to the state of Illinois than it is right now… and this project could not have come at a more crucial time. We are living, I think it’s fair to say, in a challenging moment, one in which high-quality health care is more in demand, more of a necessity, than at any other point in, certainly, my lifetime. But this is a moment that the U of I System, the University of Illinois at Chicago and UI Health were built to meet, head-on. The doctors and nurses of the future, the medical professionals who will care for Illinois’ future and serve our state, will be trained right here.”
Dr. Mark Rosenblatt University of Illinois College of Medicine Executive Dean
“The groundbreaking today provides us with a sense of hope and allows us to focus on what is the core foundation of our mission as a college, which is to advance health for everyone. This outpatient center will help our communities. Right now our operating rooms are operating beyond capacity and there is really a need to expand what we can do for our community. We will be able to create new ORs. Those who are doing groundbreaking and innovative work, such as minimally invasive robotic surgery, will also be able to have clinics that provide state-of-the-art, world-class environments to create health in our communities and will create opportunities for access. All told, we expect more than 125,000 visits a year both in our clinics and operating rooms. This will be impactful. It will change the course of our community’s health.”
Michael O’Keefe Ankura Managing Director
“The UIH Outpatient Surgery Center and Speciality Clinics is the first health care public-private partnership in the State of Illinois. The project exemplifies the best of what the private sector can bring — lowest cost, highest quality, innovation, speed to market, nimbleness, the ability to cut through the proverbial red tape — combined with the highest tenents of the public sector — diversity, inclusion and community outreach, competitive bidding, prevailing wages and a sincere focus on designing a building that provides the safest and healthiest environment for providers and patients alike, especially for the post-COVID new normal we will be living in when the building opens in 2022.”
A full collection of images of the new building, including interior and exterior renderings, is available online for download.