CHICAGO- First Lady Patti Blagojevich today joined elected officials and University of Chicago board members to participate in the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital ribbon cutting ceremony. The State of Illinois provided a capital investment of $14 million to the hospital. The facility will be more than twice the size of the University of Chicago children’s hospital that it is replacing, and will house all inpatient children’s health services offered by the University of Chicago Hospitals. The hospital, which opens to patients in mid-February, will specialize in nationally recognized cardiology, neurology, neonatology, and transplantation programs.
“It’s an honor to be a part of this opening ceremony,” stated Mrs. Blagojevich. “Today we are celebrating a strong partnership that will improve medical services for children in our region for years to come. I sincerely thank Mr. Comer, his wife Frances, and the other donors whose contributions have helped fund the new Comer Children’s Hospital.”
In addition to the state’s $14 million capital investment, the hospital completion was made possible by a $21 million donation from Mr. Gary C. Comer and his wife Frances, as well as contributions from University of Chicago donors and University of Chicago hospitals.
The Illinois Department of Public Aid provides nearly $65 million a year to the University of Chicago Hospital in direct payments. This year, the Department’s Hospital Assessment program will provide the University of Chicago Children’s Hospital with an additional $5.9 million
While many states have been cutting funding and access to health care for low-income children and families, Illinois has actually been expanding care by raising the eligibility levels of KidCare and FamilyCare. Since Governor Blagojevich took office, Illinois has added 130,000 children to the KidCare program. Almost two thirds of the children treated at the University of Chicago facilities are on KidCare, and almost ten percent of KidCare in Illinois (which is administered by the Illinois Department of Public Aid) occurs at the University of Chicago hospitals. In 2003, the University of Chicago Children’s Hospital provided care for more than 25,000 KidCare beneficiaries.
The new 7 story, 155 bed, 242,000 square foot hospital will have thirty mostly private medical and surgical rooms. The hospital has a thirty bed pediatric intensive care unit, more than twice the capacity of the previous children’s hospital, which includes separate rooms for parents who stay overnight with their children. There will also be a sixty five bed neonatal care unit, making it the largest in the Midwest. There will be six additional surgical suites that will include operating rooms, preoperative areas, and recovery rooms. The new hospital will also have a first of its kind playground built exclusively for patients of the hospital.