MAYWOOD, IL – Loyola University Medical Center and Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division leaders were joined by elected officials Tuesday, October 17, for a ceremonial groundbreaking on a stormwater abatement project that will help relieve flooding on the 61-acre campus and in surrounding communities.
"As a Level 1 trauma center, it is imperative that emergency crews, patients and our healthcare colleagues can get to Loyola 24/7, especially during extreme weather when the need may be greater," said Larry M. Goldberg, president and CEO, Loyola University Health System. "This infrastructure investment – essentially a mini deep tunnel – will allow us to deliver exceptional, compassionate care without interruption."
The first phase of the project is funded by a $5.5 million Cook County and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Program for Disaster Relief.
“Flood Waters have plagued residents and institutions for a long time," said U.S. Congressman Danny Davis. "Thanks to the advocacy and hard work of Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, in concert with myself and others, relief is on the way.”
Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle said Loyola University Chicago and Loyola University Medical Center are vital anchors in Maywood as well as regional and state healthcare coordinating centers. "I am pleased that a substantial investment from Cook County’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Relief program is going towards this project," she said.
Located just west of the Des Plaines River, the Loyola University Medical Center campus has experienced periodic flooding since the 1990s. In April 2013, a major storm impacted the Level 1 trauma center, 547-bed hospital, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, resulting in access issues for patients, ambulances, employees and students.
Commissioner Boykin said heavy rains and flooding have become more common in recent years, and Cook County's western suburbs have been especially hard hit. The $5.5 million grant will ensure that area residents who depend on the hospital will not lose access to the campus during extreme weather. "Loyola is one of the crown jewels of the First District, and we need to protect it," Commissioner Boykin said.
Two stormwater traps and a relief sewer will be installed underneath parking lots along First Avenue to alleviate flooding that occurs along the eastern edge of campus. Each stormwater trap can hold 2.5 acre-feet of water, or about three dozen backyard swimming pools. The stormwater will be contained until the Des Plaines River level recedes and the stormwater can be slowly released, an added benefit to neighboring communities.
"This project is an example of the benefits that come about when government and non-profit entities work jointly on behalf of County residents," said Cook County Commissioner John Daley.
In addition to Loyola University Medical Center, the Maywood campus includes the Health Sciences Division of Loyola University Chicago. The Health Sciences Division includes Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing.
"Thanks to this investment, the Health Sciences Division is not only at a reduced risk of additional costly losses from flooding, but it also ensures students, faculty and staff can reliably access the roadways and facilities they need to continue with their important work, and most importantly, to treat patients," said Health Sciences Division Provost Margaret Faut Callahan, CRNA, PhD, FNAP, FAAN.
The groundbreaking was also attended by Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski, Illinois Representative Emanuel "Chris" Welch, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioners Barbara McGowan, Debra Shore, Frank Avila, Kari K. Steele and Martin Durkan, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Maywood Village Trustee Isiah Brandon and representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth and Congressman Mike Quigley.
"HUD is proud of our federal contribution through Community Development Block Grant disaster relief funding, which will promote swift recovery efforts and economic resiliency in the Maywood community," HUD Midwest Deputy Regional Administrator James A. Cunningham said. "When disaster strikes, we must ensure that we are ready to address potential issues, particularly as this area serves as a major transportation hub, serving nearby hospitals, and is a critical access point for neighboring communities."
Berger Excavating Contractors, Inc., a women-owned business, has been selected as the contractor. The civil engineer is Smith Group JJR and the project manager is McNitt Consulting. Construction for the first phase of the project is estimated to take about one year. Future phases call for additional stormwater traps on the south and west sides of campus, as well as another relief sewer under 5th Avenue.