Rush Transformation: Climbing to the Top

Construction continues on the new hospital tower at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago

Photos by Jason Geil

By Cynthia Castronovo

After watching the progress of our new hospital from my office window for well over a year, I finally got the chance to get a firsthand look at the work taking place up close when I escorted a photojournalist to the roof to shoot some pictures.

Construction workers at Rush University Medical Center in ChicagoI grabbed my hard hat, fluorescent vest and goggles and headed to the safety trailer where we were met by one of two paramedics who are always working whenever workers are on the clock.

From there we took the hoist up 15 stories to the top of the new hospital. Based on the camaraderie within these close quarters, you wouldn’t know that there are over 500 workers on the project, ranging from iron workers, plumbers and carpenters to large equipment operators, dry wall installers and electricians.

When we finally made it to the top, the view was breathtaking — as was the wind, which was blowing at such high speeds I immediately twisted the crank on my hard hat two more notches to make sure it didn’t blow off.

Despite the cold temperatures and high winds, there was work going on everywhere I looked, from pipe fitting to welding to woodwork. And right in the middle of it all was a crew of about 25 laying the concrete floor. They reminded me of an Olympic relay team, starting with a team that poured the concrete.

Rush’s Triangle Office Building, which houses the Marketing and Communications Department, is on Van Buren Street, across the Eisenhower Expressway from the Medical Center.

Rush's Triangle Office Building is on Van Buren Street, across the Eisenhower Expressway from the Medical Center.

They would hand it off to the next team who would spread it out and smooth it over. Then the next team would dismantle the steel pipe that carried the concrete and move it to the next section where it would be reassembled to start the process over again.

As exhilarating as my trip to the top was, the first thing that I wanted to share once I settled back into my warm office was a conversation I had with a female iron worker — and mother of four — who told me that she had been working construction for over six years and that this site was the safest and cleanest one she had ever worked on. It doesn’t get any better than that!

A special thanks to photojournalist Jason Geil with Wednesday Journal Inc. for sharing his photos. I only wish I could have taken a picture of him photographing the concrete crew. He moved as if he had been working among them forever.

Cynthia Castronovo is associate director, Internal and Transformation Communications, for Rush University Medical Center. She will be contributing regular updates about the Rush Transformation.


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