Rush’s Tower: Built for What We Hope We’ll Never Need

Screen Shot 2020-03-09 at 8.39.14 AMBy Anthony Perry, MD

At a time when people across Chicagoland are feeling anxiety about the coronavirus spread, we find ourselves reflecting on work to design a hospital that would stand ready to support Chicago in times of great need. It was 15 years ago that we first crafted the strategies that led to the opening of the iconic hospital building at Ashland and the Eisenhower in 2012.

People often reflect on the interesting design of the building. But they don’t often get to see much of the functionality that we designed into it. One of the many aspects of the design is the preparedness for pandemic scenarios that might lead to large surges in potentially infected patients and provide an environment that protects both patients and the staff working in the building.

In the emergency department, the ambulance drop-off bays can convert into a large-scale decontamination zone, and the emergency room itself was built to expand its bed capacity by more than two and a half times its normal capacity.

Surge isolation

Computerized controls allow physicians and nurses to alter the airflow in the emergency room to create special surge isolation capacity if a serious contagion was identified. And in the Brennan Pavilion, columns can turn into patient care locations in the case of a true emergency scenario.

The sophisticated air-handling control continues in the hospital’s bed tower. In fact, if you look at the butterfly-shaped top half of that building, a quarter of that building at a time can be converted from the normal, everyday air handling of typical hospital units to special, large-scale isolation capacity to again provide an environment that maximally protects both patients and staff.

It stands as an important component of preparedness for Chicagoans and one of those things that you build thinking (and hoping) that you may never need it. But in times like these, we’re glad to know it’s there.

Anthony Perry, MD, is vice president of ambulatory transformation at Rush University Medical Center.

Remembering J. Robert (Bob) Clapp, Jr., 1958-2012

From a note to Rush University Medical Center staff from Larry Goodman, MD, CEO, and Peter Butler, president and COO:

It is with great sadness that we inform you that J. Robert (Bob) Clapp, Jr., MHSA, FACHE, executive vice president and executive director of Rush University Hospitals, passed away on Thursday, Aug. 30. As you may know, Bob had been on a brief medical leave following his diagnosis in March 2012 with pancreatic cancer.

Bob’s death is a great personal loss to those of us who knew him well and a great loss to Rush as an institution. Passionate about his work in health care, Bob was a tremendous leader at Rush and a good friend to many. Bob played an essential role in Rush’s Transformation over the past seven years. His leadership and vision were essential in the planning and opening this past January of Rush’s new Tower. Always a hands-on leader, when the new hospital opened on Jan. 8, Bob personally greeted the first patients as they were transferred from other units.

Early on, Bob was influenced to become a dedicated health care professional by his father, a retired professor of medicine, and his mother, a registered nurse.

Following success in leadership positions for Tenet Healthcare Corporation, a Dallas-based hospital company, and Duke University Medical Center and Duke University Hospital in his hometown of Durham, North Carolina, Bob joined Rush in November of 2005 as senior vice president of hospital affairs. In this role, he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the hospital. He played a critical role in the early planning for the 10-year comprehensive renovation of our campus.

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Helping Patients Enjoy FaceTime With Families

By Jaime Parent

Two weeks after the Tower move-in in mid-January, I was exhausted but pleased. Information Services had successfully managed no fewer than 35 projects, all designed to run on over 4 million feet of cable with 5,000 end user devices. Over 22,000 network jacks and 1,200 wireless access points were operational, and all telephonic and system network activity was working seamlessly throughout the building.

Then I got a phone call from Sharon Allen, unit director on 14 East.

“The patient we were discussing has returned for her prolonged stay. She reported to the nursing staff that she is unable to use FaceTime again. Can you help with this situation?”

FaceTime is an Apple application I was familiar with that allows people to participate in a videophone call over a wireless network. Much like the PC application Skype, FaceTime is becoming popular along with the devices it runs on: the Apple Macintosh, iPhone and iPad. Being late in the day and needing little encouragement to see technology in action anyway, I breezed over to 14 East to see how I could help. What I expected was a technology trouble call; what I got was a life lesson.

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Tradition, Transformation and Giving Thanks

By Brad Hinrichs

Thanksgiving Day is a distant memory by now, but one of the best traditions of that holiday comes to mind and seems particularly appropriate to me now. That tradition is to reminisce about what we are particularly grateful for, and as the name of the holiday literally implies, to engage in some “thanks giving” as a result. So let me take a minute to do just that.

I am grateful for the thousands of colleagues at Rush University Medical Center whose commitment to “the patient comes first” seems as strong to me as it did 40 years ago, when I recall that same message being delivered by then-president Dr. James A. Campbell in my new employee orientation session. This guiding principle has been key in making Rush the outstanding patient care organization that it is and has made being affiliated with it for so long such a privilege. Thanks to each and every one of you.

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On the Move: Inside the Rush Command Center

Anne Burgeson (back row, center), in the command center for the move into Rush's new hospital.

By Anne Burgeson

Busy, exhilarating, funny, innovative and LOUD. Those are just a few words to describe the Hospital Incident Command Center at Rush on Sunday, Jan. 8, during our move of about 180 patients to the Tower, the newest hospital building on our campus.

Packed with people, chairs, temporary tables, telephones and computers, the hospital incident command center was the base of operations to manage the move. In what will be a patient labor/delivery room on the eighth floor of the Tower, leaders representing departments from throughout Rush gathered from 5 a.m. until 7 p.m. to handle questions, problem-solve together and oversee all aspects of the move. This was also the place to receive all calls from employees throughout Rush who needed any assistance related to the move.

From simple things like determining how to quickly fix a loose ceiling tile, to more complex issues such as determining why an alarm was activated on a piece of equipment, the group worked together in a truly collaborative way, to make quick, effective, well-informed decisions. Continue reading

An End, and the Beginning

By Cynthia Castronovo

In my Transformation communication role, I have coordinated the production of thousands of signs over the past six years, but this Emergency Department sign is the first one that has elicited a strong emotional response from me. Not only does this sign represent the closing of the Wood Street ED, but also the end of the most exciting and rewarding project of my professional career.

As much as I joked – and at times groused – about all of the signs I made, I will miss them now that the Tower is opening. It’s hard to believe I will no longer be called upon to help with directional signs, fencing banners and educational boards explaining what is going on behind construction structures.

But on the bright side, I will continue to work with all of the people who helped me in the process, from the marketing and communications folks who helped me craft the messages (and help me comply with Rush’s graphic standards, including the pesky capitalization rules), to the designers who made the words look nice and read well, to the Medical Engineering Center staff (including Bob Lach, pictured here) who helped get them up where they needed to go.

So, even though the Emergency Department has moved to the 1600 block of West Congress Parkway and the Tower is opening on Monday, some things remain the same. And that is indeed a good thing.

From the Archives: Rush’s New Hospital, 1982

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By Nathalie Wheaton

Thirty years ago, Rush employees and patients were moving into a new hospital building, the Atrium. The May/June 1982 issue of the Rush’s NewsRounds newsletter featured a photo spread devoted to the “move-in.”

These photos show everything from the excitement of the dedication ceremonies, the attention given to patients, and the nitty-gritty details like packing up an office.

Rush moves into its new hospital building, the Tower, this weekend. The McCormick Foundation Center for Advanced Emergency Response opens on Friday, and the new hospital officially opens on Monday.

Nathalie Wheaton is assistant archivist in the Rush Archives. To learn more, please contact Visit the Rush Archives web page or explore our collections.

Panorama in the Pavilion

Nearly 1,400 pieces of art can be found throughout the Rush’s new hospital, some of them donated, others created by local artists.

One of the Tower’s centerpieces is the 30- by 20-foot view of the Chicago skyline in the Edward A. Brennan Entry Pavilion, designed by H. Marion Art Consultants and photographed Steve Gadomski from the Rush Photo Group. It’s made up of 63 different photos and features the Tower in the foreground.

Here’s a video showing time-lapse photos of the 30-hour installation.

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