Franciscan St. James Health broke ground last month on a new patient pavilion and emergency department expansion at its Olympia Fields campus.

The new construction, which will be completed in 2018, is part of a $137 million investment that will enable Franciscan St. James to reduce the total cost of care, enhance operational efficiency, improve quality and improve performance across its system of care.

The groundbreaking took place May 31.  

The Franciscan St. James restructuring plan was unanimously approved by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board in March. It calls for the consolidation of inpatient services to the hospital’s Olympia Fields campus while enhancing outpatient services in Chicago Heights to enable Franciscan St. James to be in the vanguard of an evolving healthcare environment.

“Our challenge is to keep pace with all of the ongoing, drastic changes in healthcare and healthcare delivery, and to keep providing high quality services,” said Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairperson of the board, Franciscan Alliance, Inc.

The new pavilion will house a state-of-the-art obstetrics unit, an inpatient rehabilitation unit and hospice facilities. To accommodate the consolidation of emergency services at Olympia Fields, that ER will be expanded to double its current capacity. The Olympia Fields campus will also feature all private inpatient rooms, expanded parking and improved public transportation access.

The plan also calls for expansion of the Chicago Heights Franciscan ExpressCare, located on Dixie Highway at Vollmer Road, with new 24/7 urgent care access.

After the Olympia Fields inpatient services consolidation is complete, the Chicago Heights campus will be redeveloped to offer high-demand outpatient services, including pharmacy, diabetes and obesity services.

“We have purposefully labeled this effort a restructuring,” said Franciscan St. James President and CEO Arnie Kimmel. “That restructuring involves a very strategic consolidation of our inpatient and emergency services and a significant expansion of the primary care and preventive services that so many people need.”

The hospital will capitalize on its unique status as a teaching hospital and significantly expand its primary care network. Physicians from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University get their residency training at Franciscan St. James.

“We will select the best and brightest of these physicians we helped to train to expand our primary care network,” Kimmel said. “So when our plan is fully implemented, Franciscan St. James will offer the optimum system of care with the facilities, locations and services to promote greater health and wellness in the entire area.”

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