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Palos Community to open new Hospitaller wing next month


PCH builds toward all-private rooms

By Jeff Vorva

Palos Community Hospital will soon take its private rooms public.

The facility is just about complete with the first phase of a two –part project that will expand the patient rooms to 306 and they will all be private.

The first phase is the erection of a seven-story, 400,000- square-foot east wing addition known as the Hospitaller Pavilion. The public is invited to take a tour of the new digs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 3. Call 226-2300 in advance to take the tour.

After the new wing opens March 19, the second phase will begin in June when the 190,000 square foot original hospital will have all of its rooms converted to private patient rooms.

The hospital industry is gearing toward more private rooms and the Palos Heights facility is following that trend.

"There has been an emphasis for private patient rooms," Palos Community Hospital Director of Public Relations Jim Sibley said during a recent tour he gave to the media. "It helps in a number of ways clinically. It's much quieter. There is less chance of infection. You're nursing care is almost one-to-one. It's much more family friendly if you are coming to visit someone. Your family is more welcome into the room and they are more comfortable.

"The whole experience has changed. It's becoming the norm. It just makes good sense."

But the hospital isn't parting with $400 million just to build a few new rooms.

Palos Community is also investing on some of the newest technology in healthcare.

It will boast of having a stateof- the-art Intensive Care Unit. There will be a Center for Short Stay Care with a single point entry for outpatients. There will be 14 operating rooms, including one which will feature daVinci robotics. Another will feature a Hybrid Room which "becomes a one-stop shop for patients requiring interventional radiological, vascular, cardiac and orthopaedic procedures, thereby reducing surgical time and lowering any inherent risks" according to the hospital's promotional material.

The hospital also plans to expand on its Emergency Room as well.

While there are some obvious impressive technological gizmos that can dazzle, Sibley pointed out some of the subtle changes in the new wing. For instance, in the hallways, the lighting comes from the upper sides of the walls.

"It's not coming from the ceiling, so lights aren't shining in patients' eyes when they are being transported in the hallway," he said.

Even the patient's call buttons to the nurses are being upgraded. For instance, there is a button requesting water on the new device.

"It used to be that a patient would hit the button and the nurse would come in and then have to go back and get the water," Sibley said. "This way, the nurse can come in with the water and save time."

Family waiting areas will be designed for more comfort and wireless Internet capabilities will be available.

To prepare for the switch to the new wing, approximately 300 staff members will participate in a Day in the Life event this Sunday in which they will participate in 100 scenarios and tests. Mock situations will include a patient undergoing a total knee replacement and an endoscopy procedure. Each scenario will have a director and timekeeper.

According to information supplied by the hospital, the facility had 17,960 admissions in 2012 for a total of 77,788 patient days. There were 952 births, 47,415 visits to the emergency room, 32,767 immediate care center visits, 4,520 same-day surgical procedures and 3,761 inpatient surgical procedures.

Palos Community employs 2,993 including 551 physicians.

Sibley said the hospital's expansion will have a positive effect on the local economy. The equivalent of 164 full time construction jobs have been created with 850,000 construction man hours worked.

Cheers, tears fill tribute

by Jeff Vorva
staff reporter

It was a two-hour event in which family, friends and colleagues of the late Bruce Scheidegger had a chance to laugh and cry.

"I did both," said Samantha Adamczyk, one of Scheidegger's daughters. "This was beautiful. This was perfect."

More than 1,000 people crowded Sandburg High School's Eagle Gym Sunday to pay tribute to the late athletic director, who died at age 54 in a one-car accident Feb. 9 north of Mount Carroll.

Many athletic directors are behind- the-scenes administrators, but Scheidegger had an abundance of face time with the students and athletes and to hear Eagles Boys Cross Country Coach John O'Malley tell it: "He made everyone feel like a big deal. He made every sport feel like marquee events. He made everyone feel important."

O'Malley was one of several speakers at the memorial. He said that since Scheidegger was always willing to give an extra minute to everyone he knew, that the crowd should stand and cheer him for a minute, which was counted down on the Eagle scoreboard.

Scheidegger was hired in 2007, and under his watch the Eagles won six team state championships in five sports and scores of individual state titles. Representatives from Sandburg, District 230 and his former stops, Sterling and Dixon High Schools, shared their memories of Scheidegger.

Former Sterling principal Jerry Binder had the crowd laughing with his roast-like tribute.

"I'm hearing a lot of really nice things about Bruce I'm telling you

Community Briefs

Palos Hills

Health Expo

The Palos Hills Community Resource and Recreation Department will hold a Health Expo from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, March 14 at the Community Center, 8455 W. 103rd St.

The expo will offer services including blood pressure screenings, dental screenings, body fat index analysis, and chair massages. Some services will be free and there will be a lower-than-usual charge for others. The expo is open to the general public.

The event will also feature vendors, and product displays and informational pamphlets on issues such as preventing heart disease and dental problems. The secretary of state's office will offer driver's license renewals and state ID cards. Proper identification is required for either a driver's license or state ID.

Vendors will include Walgreens, Ingalls Health Program Representatives, PACE, and Plows Council on Aging.

For more information call the Community Center at 430-4500.

-Kelly White

Evergreen top cop dismisses Fox News reports of gun deals, racial profiling

Says story is sensationalism, 'figment of the imagination'

By Laura Bollin

The police chief of Evergreen Park on Monday night responded to a news report that police officers from his department have been making deals for guns with would-be arrestees.

Chief Michael Saunders spoke at the Village Board's meeting about a Fox News Chicago story that alleged Evergreen Park police officers have been letting motorists out of traffic tickets in return for firearms. Saunders said the allegations are false.

"The officers were allegedly telling people to put their guns in a garbage can, and then the police would give the person a throwaway cell phone, and they could call and the officers would go get the gun, and then they would get out of the traffic stop," Saunders said. "What I explained [to Fox] was, first of all, nobody has come into the department and filed a complaint."

Saunders also responded to allegations by Fox News and the Better Government Association that the police department is guilty of racial profiling. The accusation arose after someone reportedly submitted an allegation to a Fox News reporter, Saunders said. He dismissed the allegations as "figments of the imagination."

The stories about the department aired on television last week, and Saunders declined to be interviewed by Fox because the allegations were false, he said.

"I'm not racist," Saunders said. "I don't care what color people are, or what color my officers are, I just want the best ones. [The allegations are] sensationalism. That's all this is."

The department reportedly received several calls from the press concerning the number of traffic stops and arrests relative to "benchmark analyses," which are reported to the Illinois Department of Transportation on an annual basis, the department stated in a press release. The current benchmark, based on a police review from 2004, estimated the minority driving population through the village at 62.57 percent. Saunders believes the current percentage should be closer to 90 percent.

A team of professors at Northwestern University in 2004 designated the benchmark at 12.3 percent - a figure Saunders called "impossible." That percentage was based on the demographics in Evergreen Park, and 12.3 percent is the minority population in Evergreen Park, not the driving population in the town, he said. He believed the 2004 figure to be impossible because of the village's close proximity to Chicago, and the number of Chicagoans that come into Evergreen Park to work and shop.

Saunders is currently putting together his own study on the minority driving population in Evergreen Park to submit to Northwestern University in March, and the university will then evaluate it, he said.

"A lot of these people come out this way to shop because of the lack of businesses on the South Side, which is one of the reasons we have such a high volume of traffic in town," Saunders said.

"We have two hospitals, Little Company of Mary and Advocate Christ, nearby; and we have the same traffic as the south side of Chicago," Saunders said.

Evergreen Park police reported 20,353 traffic stops in 2011 - 5,697 of Caucasian drivers and 14,656 of minority drivers. Chicago police during the same year reported seven times as many traffic stops as Evergreen Park with 140,942 - 39,780 of Caucasian drivers and 100,227 of minority drivers. Evergreen Park has a population of 25,044 people, roughly 108 times fewer than Chicago, which has an estimated population of roughly 2.7 million people.

"It is staggering they only made seven times more stops than us," Saunders said. "When we stop people, we stop people are who are driving with suspended licenses, revoked licenses, people with warrants, or people with guns or drugs in their cars."

Based on zip code analysis, 92.7 percent of drivers stopped in Evergreen Park - 15,926 out of 17,175 - live outside the village, according to data provided to the police department by IDOT. Minority drivers - 12,538 drivers out of 17,175 stopped - accounted for 73 percent of stops that year, the data shows.

The percentage of minority stops is reflective of traffic coming from outside Evergreen Park, particularly Chicago, police said. The police department records all of the racial information of arrestees via computer, and submits that data annually to IDOT.

The department states it has procedures in place that give stringent regulation to fair and unbiased enforcement of laws including traffic enforcement. Every traffic stop in the village is recorded on video with audio. Moving radar as well as stationary radar detections determines the speed of a vehicle prior to being able to see any identifying characteristics of a driver or passengers, police said.

Some OL trustees say upgrades a must at Central & SW Hwy

By Laura Bollin

A new fund allocation policy for infrastructure projects in Oak Lawn will not prohibit what some trustees say is an important safety project, according to the village's mayor.

Trustees voted 3-2 Feb. 12 to approve a policy that will distribute a portion of the village's remaining Build America Bond funds equally to each of the village's six trustee districts to fund their own infrastructure projects, whether that is repairing potholes or paving alleys.

The village has about $7 million in remaining bond revenues, said Trustee Bob Streit, chairman of the Village Board's public works committee. Of that money, $1 million is earmarked for the expansion of the Village Green, $2 million will go toward sewer projects, and $4 million will be divided equally to between the six trustees - that is $666,000 apiece - to spend within their districts as they please.

One project discussed by trustees is adding a left turn lane and traffic signal at Central Avenue and Southwest Highway. Some trustees said the project is important for safety reasons, while others are concerned the village does not have the money to finance the project this year.

Cook County Commissioner John P. Daley (11th District) and Cook County Highways Superintendent John Yonan were onhand last week to answer the board's questions about the leftturn lane project. Yonan said the intersection is not among the top 10 projects for the county, but is an important for Oak Lawn and has the full support of the Cook County Highway Department.

"It is the top accident location in the village," Yonan said, noting that collisions involving vehicles turning into traffic and being sideswiped have occurred at the intersection.

When the intersection was repaved in 1990, a left-turn lane was not added because of objections from residents, Daley said.

Oak Lawn village manager Larry Deetjen said the $1.6 million project was for a dedicated left-turn lane and left-turn signal at Central Avenue and Southwest Highway, near St. Gerald Church and School and blocks from Oak Lawn High School. The project would impact drivers turning from Central onto Southwest Highway, Deetjen said. The village will split the project 50/50 with the county.

This year, the village was expected to spend $300,000 on the project, and then spent the remaining $500,000 in 2014. With each trustee district being given its own funds, trustees may pool the money to finance the project. A 2009 traffic study at the intersection determined that a left-turn lane was warranted, Deetjen said.

"The project can still go forward," Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann said. "We just have to find a new way to allocate the funds."

Trustee Tom Duhig said the alley program is a much lower priority than the safety and security of the intersection.

Trustees have discussed not funding the alley project - at a cost of $3 million.

"I support moving forward with [the Central and Southwest Highway] project, but we need to figure out how we are going to pay for it," Streit said.

Trustee Carol Quinlan agreed.

"I support the project, but I don't think we have the funds for it right now," she said. "What if Trustee Duhig and Trustee [Alex] Olejniczak each took $100,000 of their funds to fund the project?"

Duhig suggesting having each of the six trustees put $50,000 toward the $300,000 cost the project in 2013; however, Quinlan opposes that plan.

Olejniczak said the project must be completed.

"We know monies are tight, but when we have matching funds, we need to do this," Olejniczak said. "This is a safety issue in this neighborhood. St. Gerald's Church and School and Oak Lawn High School would all be positively affected by putting this project forward. Oak Lawn High School traffic goes through there, and we are dedicated to making that intersection safer."

The intersection of Central and Southwest Highway is the only intersection along Central Highway between 79th to 115th streets without a left turn lane, Yonan said.

"A left turn lane will decrease the safety issues and ease the flow of traffic," Yonan said.

Once the village board decides to fund the project, the next step is a right of way acquisition, which would cost approximately $57,000, Deetjen said. The right of way is insufficient, so the village needs to begin work on acquiring the slivers of hand between the existing curb and the sidewalk. When the project is approved by the Village Board, Oak Lawn will have to notify homeowners on the east side of Central Avenue between 91st Street and Southwest Highway about the right of way acquisition, and then reimburse them, Deetjen said.

"Normally, the right of way includes the street and the sidewalk, but years ago, when the properties were developed, the village did not acquire sufficient land on the sidewalk on the east side of Central Avenue," Deetjen said. "The ball is in the village's court to acquire the property."

Pending the board's decision on how to fund the project, construction could start in July 2013. If it is not approved in 2013, construction could begin in spring 2014, Yonan said.