Rockford Register Star: Mercyhealth rolls on Rockton Avenue hospital Upgrades

Renovations to private rooms, ICU, surgical areas are part of $70M makeover of northwest Rockford campus

ROCKFORD — Mercyhealth is spending millions of dollars on renovations at Javon Bea Hospital-Rockton — the latest phase of what will be a $70 million makeover at the hospital campus on the city’s northwest side when work concludes in a few years.

In October alone, the city issued building permits for work worth more than $3.4 million at the hospital at 2401 N. Rockton Avenue.

Bea, the hospital’s namesake and president and CEO of the health system, shared details of Mercyhealth’s investment with hundreds of business leaders at the Rockford Area Economic Development Council annual meeting on Tuesday.

Renovations include water remediation, a modernized surgical prep and recovery area, and a makeover of the intensive care unit and medical and surgical units. Upgrades are being made to most of the private rooms, nurses’ stations, hallways and other areas of the hospital, too. Upgrades will roll out in phases and will not disrupt patient care, hospital officials say.

The health system opened Javon Bea Hospital-Riverside at the junction of East Riverside Boulevard and Interstate 90 on Jan. 5. The more than $500 million complex in northeast Rockford is the largest construction project in Winnebago County history. Even so, Bea said, the hospital remains committed to reinvesting in the Rockton Avenue hospital campus.

“We are proud of the impact we have made over the last four years in the Rockford region,” Bea Tuesday. “Our ‘One Hospital, Two Campuses’ plan has shown our commitment to all sides of town .

The health system is making room for more green space and regrading existing green space around the Rockton Avenue hospital to help prevent flooding that has been a persistent problem on the hospital campus.

Mercyhealth’s insurer, Federal Insurance Co., is suing the city to the tune of $24.2 million after it had to foot the bill for flood damage that occurred in June 2018 at the Rockton hospital. The suit alleges that Federal Insurance paid Mercy Health System Corp. that amount as a result of damage from a June 18 flash flood in northwest Rockford. The complaint alleges that the city failed to properly install, clean, maintain and inspect the storm sewer system that connects to the hospital campus.

Mercyhealth will level six homes it owns on Lawndale Avenue to make room for a second, larger retention pond at its Rockton Avenue hospital campus. The health system is providing rent assistance and moving expenses to tenants who live in those homes.

The health system recently donated two residential properties it owns on Lawndale to the Northwest Rockford Redevelopment Corp. The nonprofit agency was established in 2016 to purchase, rehabilitate and sell homes to owner-occupants, particularly in the area bounded by Main and Halsted streets and Kilburn and Custer avenues. The agency will renovate an additional Mercyhealth-owned home on Lawndale as part of this partnership.

Millions of dollars worth of upgrades have been completed in the past few years to dozens of service areas at the hospital, including the Orthopedic Institute, EMS training center, pharmacy and lab, cancer and infusion centers, dialysis, the helipad, clinical education, respiratory therapy and more. Additionally, Mercyhealth partnered with Crusader Community Health to meet the region’s neonatal intensive care needs with its state-of-the-art, 52-bed NICU and services for high-risk moms.

“It’s wonderful,” said Winnebago County Board member Angie Goral, D-13, whose district contains the Rockton Avenue hospital campus. “This is what the older part of the city needs.”

Isaac Guerrero: 815-987-1361; iguerrero@rrstar.com@isaac_rrs

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