URBANA — More than two years after construction started on Carle Foundation Hospital's new nine-story patient tower, it's nearly ready to open to patients.
The new 400,000-square-foot building at the corner of Coler and Church streets houses Carle's Heart and Vascular Institute and 136 new private patient rooms. It also comes with its own 250-space parking lot.
Carle plans to give the community its first look at the new building at an open house with tours from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Guests are encouraged to park at the Champaign County Fairgrounds, and a shuttle service will be provided.
"This has been a long project, really over seven years in the making," Carle Foundation CEO Dr. James Leonard said before a tour of the building for reporters Thursday.
Leonard said this is the largest facility Carle has ever built all in one project, and it was designed with the community's future health care needs in mind.
The top floor is shell space for the future, and two floors could be added if needed, Carle officials said.
The Heart and Vascular Institute, on two floors, houses inpatient and outpatient cardiovascular services.
Carle says the most significant addition to its heart program is the TAVR — transcatheter aortic vale replacement — procedure, an advanced treatment for patients who don't qualify for open heart surgery, which helps alleviate symptoms of heart failure. Carle was recently approved to offer this procedure.
The new patient rooms are replacing patient rooms from decades-old sections of the hospital, leaving the hospital's total bed count at 345.
Now all sections of the hospital, with the exception of a rehab area, offer private rooms, Carle officials said.
The waiting rooms in the new building also have a new addition, kitchenettes, a feature requested in patient surveys, said Scott Harding, Carle vice president of facility and support services.
The entire tower project was actually approved by a state regulatory board in 2008, but put on hold for a time because of the economy and then scaled back a bit. It wound up being a $195 million project, with work beginning in May 2011.
Harding said moving in will start once the Illinois Department of Public Health gives final approval to the building and is anticipated for August.
It will be done a floor at a time, and about 20 to 24 patients will be moved at a time, he said.
What's next at Carle: A 14,000-square-foot, 17-bed expansion of the emergency department between this new building and the existing hospital is already under construction and set to be largely completed by the end of next year, Harding said.
That is an $18.5 million project being driven by growing emergency room volume.