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Around 10,000 visitors take tour of new Silver Cross

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Updated: March 14, 2012 8:10AM

On Sunday, Elizabeth Farmer became the first woman to feel a contraction in the new building.

The pregnant Lockport resident held on to a doorframe for a moment but assured everyone no others were coming right away and she still expected to deliver at the end of March.

Which was good because the birthing suite she was standing in at the new Silver Cross Hospital won’t open until Feb. 26.

Farmer and her husband, Mike, expect to have their second baby at the new facility, which hosted “housewarming” tours this weekend.

“We had about 3,700 employees’ family and friends here Saturday and expect around 10,000 visitors (Sunday),” CEO Paul Pawlak said. “There’s been an overwhelming response.”

About 6,700 people pre-registered for 45-minute walking tours of the new hospital. At 11 a.m. a line of people were waiting at the curb to get into the heated tent where they could have snacks and water before starting the tour.

Debbie Pavlak of New Lenox said she was curious to see what they’ve been building for three years.

“And I have five kids. I’m sure I’ll have to be here at some point,” she said.

Signs posted throughout the corridors listed information such as the capacity of the parking lot (2,200 vehicles) and the ambulance bay (nine).

About 125 staff members and volunteers were stationed to answer questions along the tour, which began near the emergency room where there are 38 exam stations available.

“This looks very nice, but I don’t want to see it from the other side of the glass,” Dolores Massey joked to a friend. The Joliet resident said she was satisfied with the facility in Joliet, but the new hospital is something the area needs.

The Joliet hospital has an imaging center for X-rays and CAT scans located on the floor below the emergency room. In the new building, it will be just around the corner.

“It seems most (visitors) have been to Silver Cross already and want to see what the differences are,” imaging manager Marcy Vasillades said.

The in-patient rehab evaluation will have older equipment matched with new “toys” such as the model car, which looks like the front seat of a convertible with a door that opens and closes. Patients who have suffered a stroke or hip fractures will use the model car to practice getting in and out of a vehicle.

The rehabiliation ward also has “The Apartment” set up in Room 5432. It’s a hospital room that contains a regular bed, couch and dresser but isn’t designed for someone to stay overnight.

“This will be used to make sure someone has the skill to function in their own room when they’re discharged,” pharmacy director Frank Butler said.

After viewing the maternity ward, visitors saw the operating rooms. One is occupied by a robot controlled by a surgeon who sits using a monitor and console to perform operations such as hysterectomies and lung removals. Everyone taking the tour was able to submit a suggestion to name the robot.

“Please keep in mind this is something we’ve got to call it every day,” physician recruitment and retainment director Molly Scroggins said. Scroggins said robot names like “R2-D2” and “Wall-E” have been among the top suggestions, with “basics like ‘Sam’ and ‘Pete’ being popular as well.”

Mary Berryman suggested “RESIN” to stand for “Receiving Excellent Service in New Lenox.”

“My mom (Betty Jane Jeans of Wilmington) has been sick since May and we’re very familiar with the old hospital,” Berryman said. “I like the organization of this. It seems like the architecture is laid out right.”

New Lenox resident Gaylene Klukas wanted to see the village’s new hospital and decided it looks “gorgeous” on the inside. Her cousin, Sonya Jerantowski, of Braceville, “figured since (she) was born in the old one ... (she) had to see the new one.”

Steve and Barb Peterson brought their grandchildren to take the tour. Hunter, 6, and Layne, 5, live in Downers Grove but visit every weekend and pass by the new hospital.

“They’ve seen each step as they were building this and seeing what was different each week. So we had to see the inside,” Barb Peterson said.

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