“I do believe this reflects a renewed emphasis from the hospital and the University of Chicago to the care of communities on the South Side of Chicago, which I represent,” said state House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat whose district includes the university. “There have been tensions in the past, but I believe those tensions have passed.”
At a cost of $700 million, the Center for Care and Discovery is the largest investment in health care infrastructure in the university’s history.
“This is the single largest facility the University of Chicago has ever built,” said University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer, adding the building stands as a testament to the university’s commitment to expanding knowledge and improving quality of life.
Zimmer spoke from a stage in the 7th floor lobby with Hyde Park and Bronzeville stretching behind towards the city's skyline, a view similar to the 80 patient rooms on the three floors overhead.
Zimmer joined Gov. Pat Quinn and other politicians bearing gold scissors to symbolically cut the ribbon on the hospital, which will open to patients on Feb. 23.
“Everybody in, nobody left out — that’s what this facility is all about,” Quinn said. “The University of Chicago has always been on the forefront of quality health care for everyone.”
The University of Chicago has been criticized in South Side neighborhoods for the type of care it provides to the surrounding communities. University officials and politicians all made a point to note the new hospital signified the university’s renewed devotion to inclusion.
More than 40 percent of contracts to build the hospital were awarded to minority- and women-owned firms, and the university estimates the project injected $430 million into the Illinois economy.
The new hospital will broadly expand specialty care on the South Side, adding 21 operating rooms and 240 private patient rooms. Two floors of the 10-story hospital are reserved for future expansion.
“We built one of the world’s most up to date hospitals on the South Side of Chicago,” said Kenneth Polonsky, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the medical school. “This signals our commitment to the neighborhoods of the South Side.”