At about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, the campus in New Lenox was quiet. There were people rushing behind doors, juggling phones, making sure everything was ready.
As the sun peaked out to the east of the hospital, an ambulance rolled down Route 6, delivering the first patient admitted to the hospital's new location. It was a new day.
Like clockwork, 15 ambulances traveled three and a half miles between the old Joliet hospital and the vast New Lenox campus. Back and forth they went, rushing in 129 patients, including 100 medical and surgical patients, 16 people in rehabilitation, eight intensive care patients and five expectant mothers.
Just after 8 a.m., when the hospital had admitted 12 patients, a call came into the emergency department—the first for the new hospital. Amid the planned arrivals from Joliet came a woman who would be the first ER patient. And still, everything was clockwork.
“People were here around the clock last night making sure everything was ready,” said Ruth Colby the hospital's vice president of business development. “We’ve been practicing this for months.”
Families were treated to a complimentary breakfast in the hospital's dining room while the patients were situated. They said they were impressed by the transition.
Joliet resident Susan Weese waited to see her husband, Arthur, who went to Silver Cross a couple of days ago to rehabilitate a knee injury.
“The transition went really well," she said. "I couldn’t believe how organized they were to get everything together like this.”
Marian Biesadecki, of Tinley Park, and her sister, Judy Maruszak of New Lenox, waited together before getting a chance to see their brother, Walter Pasternak, who has physical disabilities.
He lives in New Lenox with Maruszak and was admitted to Silver Cross in Joliet a couple weeks ago with pneumonia and a urinary tract infection. The family said Walter has been improving, and they couldn't wait to visit him in the new patient rooms, which are private and designed to look more like hotel rooms than a hospital.
“There is no comparison to the old place,” Marian's husband, Jim Biesadecki, said. “There was an air of excitement today. We’ve been coming by here since they broke ground and seen it build up to today.”
“It’s been awesome so far,” Marian said. “They’re making us feel very comfortable.”
The patients felt comfortable, too. The hospital threw a welcome party in the rehabilitation wing, which includes a gym and various household items to help people reacclimate with day-to-day life. Martinton resident Wayne Marti, who suffered a traumatic back injury, loved the new hospital.
"The views are really nice," he said. "I love the large windows, the bigger gym, the private rooms."
By about 1:30 in the afternoon, there were only a few patients left who needed to be moved, putting the hospital way ahead of schedule.
"It's been a fantastic day," Colby said.