The long-awaited ground-breaking for the new Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital took on an almost party-like atmosphere on the hospital’s grounds Friday morning.
Hundreds of guests and staff packed an air-conditioned white tent set up in the parking lot with purple table linens and purple flowers — in Northwestern Medicine’s signature color — while members of the Lake Forest Symphony played classical music. A palpable conviviality was evident among the guests with much hand-shaking and smiles, and even a few tears.
Guests of honor included Marina Carney, a lifelong Lake Forest resident, who weighed a mere 2 pounds when she was born at Alice Home Hospital, the original Lake Forest Hospital until 1942. More recently, Carney has survived two bouts of cancer with treatment at Lake Forest Hospital.
She became visibly choked up while standing among a line of a dozen people chosen to turn over a ceremonial spadeful of dirt as the culmination of the morning ceremony.
“This is an emotional day,” she said later. “This new facility will be sensational and we need it. I think what we have done so far is exceptional, but this will be over the top.”
The new hospital building, scheduled to open in 2017, will bring together the “highest technological standards” with caregivers who are “world leaders in their field,” Dr. James Adams, chief medical officer of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, told the crowd.
“This facility in Lake Forest will be a jewel not just in the community, not just in the region, not just for Northwestern Medicine, but for the country and for the world,” Adams said.
Lake Forest Hospital President Thomas McAfee led the guests in a group cheer to welcome the beginning of a new chapter in the hospital’s history.
Then he recognized the Dick family of Lake Forest, who donated lands from their farms for the current Lake Forest Hospital to be constructed and upon which the new state-of-the-art building will be located.
“Nearly 75 years later, we’re united as a community,” McAfee said, noting that the new hospital “will serve generations to come.”
McAfee also recognized community leaders “who selflessly sacrificed their time and talents solely to enhance the health and well-being of our community.”
A group of community leaders and residents worked with the hospital staff and Northwestern representatives for months to design the new hospital building and revitalized campus.
Mayor Donald Schoenheider called the hospital ground-breaking “the epitome of collaboration in Lake Forest.”
The result “won’t be just great, it will be really extraordinary,” Schoenheider said.
Dean Harrison, president and CEO of Northwestern HealthCare, noted the heightened level of care the hospital will offer.
“We’ll provide trusted, quality care that is accessible where patients live or work,” he said. “We are proud to be part of the Lake Forest Hospital legacy and look forward to serving this community’s health-care needs for years to come.”
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and Congressman Brad Schneider commented on the important economic development the new campus will bring to the region and the state.
“Today is truly a big deal,” Schneider said.
The new hospital will bring jobs not only to Lake Forest, he said, but to Lake County and the region.
Madeleine Dugan of Lake Forest, a member of the Dick family that donated the hospital land, found the morning ceremony to be emotionally touching.
“It’s very sentimental with our family having started the hospital with the donation of the grounds,” she said. “It’s exciting.”