Nostalgia, it seems, means little to Cook County Health and
Hospitals System board members, who this morning expressed concerns
about an expenisve project to rehab old Cook County Hospital.
The aging and empty structure at 1901 W. Harrison may still be
turned into office space for the health system administration, but
today board members signaled their disapproval of the $107 million
project by voting against moving into old Cook County Hospital if it
were to be renovated.
However, they also agreed to move into any building on the Stroger
Hospital campus the county might provide for them, but cited
reservations about migrating to the old hospital.
“We are saving something that the architectural community thinks is
worth saving. I don’t think it has anything to do with the Cook County
Health and Hospitals System, and I think we are just wasting $24
million to preserve” it, said County Commissioner Jerry Butler, who
serves on the health board.
“Even though I have a great nostalgia, I would like to see it turned
to dust and something else go up,” said board member Dr. David Ansell.
County commissioners are weighing
the project and asked for the health board’s input. Cost estimates put
tearing down the 95-year-old landmark about $3 million, and another $85
million to build a structure in the landlocked medical district.
The health system offices are currently located in a building slated
for demolition, so they will have to move somewhere. Just where that
will be remains an open question.
As the health system gears up to replace its aging Fantus Clinic,
scheduled to go where the current offices are located, the options are
slim. One option would be moving the health system offices to a
building a mile and a half away from Stroger Hospital, a choice board
members deemed unsatisfactory.
“Saving the façade is a waste, but I’m very concerned about having
our staff a mile and a half away,” said chairman Warren Batts.
Architectural groups have for years tried to find a suitable use for
old County Hospital, which has been memorably featured in the film “The
Fugitive” and the hit television series “E.R.” It has a protected
landmark status with the state and is protected by the city.