EDGEWATER — Despite plans to partially demolish and renovate the long-closed former Edgewater Medical Center, neither developers nor city officials will say when residents can expect work to begin as the buildings slip further into decay.
A walk around the building's exterior reveals large, broken ground-level windows, unsecured doors, a broken fence dangerously overhanging the sidewalk, thin wire used to "close" other portions of the fence and large holes in remaining portions of the building leading into a sublevel almost completely submerged in standing water.
Scaffolding surrounding the building has rotten and broken in several areas.
MCZ Developments, the property's owner, along with Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th), had earlier told community members the buildings slated to become a green space owned by the Chicago Park District were supposed to be demolished earlier this year, though that has yet to come to fruition.
MCZ declined to comment Thursday. O'Connor's office did not return a request for an update on the buildings.
Safety and securing at the building has been an issue since it closed 15 years ago after a massive Medicare fraud scandal, with photographers, explorers and the curious-minded flocking to tour the property's remains. Those who have been inside the building have warned others that it can be dangerous inside.
There is a security guard stationed in a now cordoned-off alley that separates part of the large hospital campus.
Other areas reveal weak spots in doors and windows that have been broken or boarded up but not stayed fully closed over time.
A thin piece of wire holding together a portion of an unsecured fence along Edgewater Avenue. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
Those who have attempted to traverse the buildings' interiors also had access to unsecured medical and personnel files, as well as test results, lab slides, x-rays and more.
In a recent visit, Chicagoan Mike Kinsch found several boxes of death records dating to the 1990s though records were supposed to have been destroyed by now.
"I discovered a lot of patient records and abandoned hospital paperwork," Kinsch told DNAinfo. "I remember one of the doctors offices was piled with paperwork and photos of his kids still. It was very creepy to see all of this piled with dust.
"His office closet was stacked with files boxed titling 'deceased' then the year of the files. ... I saw names and birth dates."
Blood samples, some labeled with serious infectious diseases, remain inside as well, he said.
Death records dating back to the 1990s. [Mike Kinsch]
Old Medical Files
The hospital at 5700 N. Ashland Ave. was built in 1929 and closed at the end of 2001, officially filing for bankruptcy in early 2002.
According to Illinois law, hospitals are required to keep medical records for 10 years — even if they close.
In summer 2002, a custodian of the estate got the green light from a judge to destroy medical records that were more than a decade old, but kept more recent ones throughout various parts of the buildings, the Tribune reported.
A joint investigation by the Tribune and WGN found that in 2013, many of the remaining records were not destroyed in 2011 as the law allowed.
The investigation prompted Scott Mendeloff, then the attorney for a court-appointed custodian of the property, asked to ask judge to allow the records to be destroyed.
In early May 2014, workers were seen carrying out records by the dumpster-full, though Kinsch's more recent photos show some still remain. Photos posted online by one photographer who snuck into the building Memorial Day weekend of 2014 show rooms filled with files.
When asked about the records still in the building, Mendeloff, the attorney who requested permission for the records to be destroyed in 2013, told DNAinfo it was no longer his problem.
"I don't know what he thinks he saw, but ... it's the responsibility of the new owner," Mendeloff said. "We have no involvement and no knowledge of what they're doing. It's all the new owner's responsibility."
Photos by Linze Rice, to see more click on the slide show above.
Thin wire meant to close a gaping hole in the fence and failing. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
Open basement with old medical equipment submerged in water. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
A broken part of the fence jutting out at eye-level in the middle of the sidewalk on Edgewater Ave. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
A door not fully boarded up from the outside. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
Barbed wire meant to keep away trespassers. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
Graffiti in the former pool room of the building. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
Broken glass under neath a ground-floor window on Hollywood Avenue. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
A gaping hole in a portion of the fence. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
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