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Published on October 01, 2007

New Hospital Will Help Sustain the Community's Economic Vitality

October 2007 - NI Business - By Kevin Poorten

The opening of the new Kishwaukee Community Hospital is a milestone, a watershed moment for our community.

The private patient rooms, the new technology and the design of the building will dramatically change the hospital experience for those we serve, making it safer, more private, more comfortable and ultimately a better place to receive care.

The completion of this $102 million project would not have been possible without the support and involvement from numerous individuals and organizations. We especially want to thank health system board members, physicians, staff and volunteers who took a year to thoroughly investigate the options for expanding or replacing the hospital, and community leaders who participated in focus groups to guide us in the decision-making.

The community campaign exceeded all our expectations, raising $9.2 million, well over the $7 million goal.

We are indebted to Mike Cullen of The National Bank & Trust Company for his outstanding leadership as campaign chair, and to honorary co-chairs, John Castle of Castle Bank and Dave Juday of IDEAL Industries. One hundred twenty other volunteers, largely from the business and professional ranks, helped on the campaign, which included contacting potential donors.

The Kishwaukee Health Foundation was responsible for the campaign and provided $1 million to get it started. This first million represented hundreds of donors who supported Friends for Life KCH 100 since the inception of the annual giving club in 1981.

Physicians, employees, board members, community philanthropists, businesses, organizations, and the community at large, 741 donors in all, made this the most successful fund-raising effort in the community’s history.

We are deeply appreciative of all these efforts.

The return on this investment is not only higher quality healthcare, but broader economic development that will positively impact many sectors of the community.
Consider for the moment that a significant part of the project cost was spent locally through the use of local subcontractors and labor, and the purchase of materials, goods and professional services.

Mascal Electric, Elliott & Wood, Curran Contracting Company, DeKalb Mechanical, Walker Construction and Wendler Engineering, for example, were involved in the construction. Meier Construction built our mock rooms in warehouse space we rented in Sycamore. The majority of the office furniture was supplied by Master’s Business Interiors. Local restaurants catered events, local florists provided decorations.

The small DeKalb business, Nathan Winston Services, engraved 2,000 outlet plates for the building with identifying information. Even some of the artwork was purchased from local artists.

The hospital also is the community’s second largest employer. The hospital workforce in the last two years since the project started has grown from 820 to 960, and in the last two months, 72 new employees have joined our team.

The impact of this larger payroll will result in economic benefits throughout the community for a long time.

I should also mention that more than 300 people attended our employment fair, which was held in conjunction with our community open houses. As a result, several clinical positions have been filled by individuals who live in the community but who have been working elsewhere.

As we promised, the new hospital is enabling us to recruit more physicians, as well. The available space in the attached medical office building is nearly full. Tenants so far are a cardiology group that is expanding westward from Elgin, a pediatrics/internal medicine practice, and a Neurology Institute that will significantly enhance our local neurology services.

We have to thank our forefathers who nearly 40 years ago understood that DeKalb and Sycamore were outgrowing their public hospitals. They had the foresight to select property along Bethany and Sycamore Road for one hospital to serve both communities.

In 2003, the KishHealth System Board of Directors followed their lead and decided to build the replacement hospital on the campus, even though other sites were a tempting option.

Because of the vision and courage from both generations of community leaders, the property bordered by Bethany and Sycamore roads will continue to evolve as the epicenter of healthcare for DeKalb County.

On behalf of the board of directors and the administrative team, I want to thank the business and professional community for their expertise, financial support, leadership and commitment that is making the new hospital a source of pride for the community and a catalyst for sustained economic vitality.

Kevin Poorten is President and CEO of KishHealth System. Contact him at kpoorten@kishhealth.org.

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