Village officials and the group of doctors planning to open a new cancer center in Chicago Ridge came together on Friday for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site where it is being built at 10604 Southwest Highway.
The real digging was expected to begin this week on the site just east of Harlem Avenue, with completion tentatively scheduled for May of 2017.
The Chicago Ridge Village Board last month approved the plans for the 40,000 square-foot facility, which represents an investment of between $15 million and $17 million.
“This is phenomenal. It is going to be our home here for a very long time,” said Amar Hamed, MD, the lead doctor in the group of six who will be moving their practices into the building.
“It is going to be great for the community of Chicago Ridge. It is going to be great for the whole area,” he said of the center, which is expected to draw clients from throughout the southwest suburban area.
He and his partners and their staffs, with Mayor Chuck Tokar and trustees Frances Coglianese, Jack Lind, Sally Durkin and Amanda Cardin, toasted the achievement with sparkling grape juice before lifting a few shovelfuls of dirt to mark the occasion.
The two-story center, open 24 hours a day, will include about two dozen exam rooms, as well as thoracic and pulmonary surgery suites, a PET/CT scan suite and a blood center. Chemotherapy bays will be on the second floor, situated in front of large windows so that patients receiving chemotherapy will be able to look out on an adjacent wooded area.
In addition, a pharmacy and retail store for medical supplies will be on the first floor, as well as an outdoor patio area.
“We want a friendly space for our patients. We want them to think positively. That is important in cancer care. So, to promote that, we have incorporating a water feature, a fountain in the two-story lobby and reception area,” said Mahmoud Mahafzah, MD, one of the cancer specialists partnering with Hamed.
He said that while a name for the center has not been officially chosen, they are seriously considering “Fountain of Hope.”
The six are affiliated with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, and Palos Community Hospital in Palos Heights.
Cathy Griffin, the regional director of operations for the group, said they will be consolidating three medical offices, including two in Oak Lawn and one in Burbank, at the new site.
“We are so happy and excited that this is coming to Chicago Ridge,” said Griffin. “It is a tremendous addition.”
“It seems like 10 years we have been working on this, rather than one,” said the mayor.
“We’re here to celebrate. We are so proud to have this center here. It is going to be great for Chicago Ridge and the whole area,” said Tokar.
When the Village Board approved the plans last month, the mayor noted that developing the land within the TIF district will benefit the village financially, too.
“The increment on taxes is going to mean a lot. It is a big difference in what is being collected now on vacant land. It will mean some jobs, too,” said Tokar.
With the Chicago Ridge Nursing Center already located next door at 10602 Southwest Highway, and the Davita dialysis center nearby at 10511 S. Harlem, and other facilities in the area, Tokar said at the groundbreaking that area is becoming a “medical corridor” for the village.
“And it has been a pleasure working with these doctors to come to an agreement that is good for everyone.
The Rev. Joseph Mol also led the medical and village staff in a prayer, seeking blessings for everyone from the construction workers to the future generations of healthcare workers and patients who will pass through the doors.
“May the Divine Physician shower his grace upon all the good that will take place in this building for years to come,” he said.