The Old and the the New


Taking a semester off from triton while training for a new job at A.F.L.A.C.  (I’m still working weekends for police department.) I’ve had the chance to spend a lot of time on the ground walking the different parts of the city. Recently while assisting a client I had to go to the new John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, that replaced the old Cook County hospital. Originally the Blue Line stop was called Medical Center, however, with all the improvements in the area they decided to change the name to Medical District.

As the “El” which for those of you not from Chicago refers to Chicago’s elevated trains that transverse Chicago’s loop business/shopping districts. Over time the word morphed into a local idiom meaning any of the Chicago Transit Authorities trains elevated or subway.

Here’s an example of a Blue Line subway stop in the Loop. Clark & Lake is one of the free transfer points allowing you to switch from the subway to the Elevated trains through a series of escalators from this deep underground domain to the brightly lit world of public transportation above… (photos by me)

The Medical District stop is actually in the subway system but it’s a couple stops before the train begins its underground journey, resurfacing on a northwest trajectory heading to the final stop on the line which is O’Hare International Airport. However at this point in my trip the train is running along the Eisenhower Expressway (known locally as “The Ike”) with access points to the stops on the bridges span the expressway. The first thing that struck me as I stepped out from my quarter-mile hike to get out of the station was the new and newly remodeled Rush University Medical Center with the new main building and the old building remodeled building serving as a children’s hospital as well as many other buildings serving to provide various other services to the city and surrounding communities.

Here’s the front of the building, though the whole center is so massive it’s hard to capture it with a camera. (this photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Here’s side view of this massive medical center the children’s wing is in the foreground. Taken from the entrance to the Blue Line. Even at this distance I can’t get the entire complex into the picture.  (photo by me)

However, my actual destination is Stroger and that’s still several blocks away, and as if not to be out-done by Rush, Stroger is massive compared to the building it replaced. Not that Cook County was that small at two blocks long and a block wide. These new buildings are just that much larger.The orignal Cook County Hospital is one the few buildings in the area that is empty, these days the hospital (Tippecanoe Hall as it was called before being rented as a hospital.) is surrounded by a chain link fence to keep people out, as it sits as a silent reminder of the all the good it accomplished over its 102 year run as a hospital, that is if you trace its roots all the way back to Chicago’s first “poor house” hospital founded in 1843 or when it came to the Tippacanoe Hall location in 1847. Currently there is a lot of debate as to what should be done with the old building. Personally, I think it should be restored and re-purposed to in a way that would allow it to continue assisting those in need. Even if it no longer serves as a hospital, for example a boutique hotel with a hospice wing that offers deep discounts to families who have loved ones staying at any of the hospitals in the area as well as accommodations for those with family in the hospice section.  But that’s just my opinion and ultimately the city and those who make those decisions will decide its fate.

Here’s a shot of Cook County from Wikipedia, The old hospital besides it’s important work of the past is and architectural gem that if lost would be sad…

Here it is with Stroger in the background…

The only part of the old hospital still in use is the helipad, this photo was taken by me at the far side of it.

Cook County’s helipad is in a good location to allow it to be used for both Stroger and Rush. It’s also very park like in comparison to more modern sites there’s no out buildings attached to it and east of this picture (it’s not shown) is a relatively small monument to the hospital and those who served there and were connected to it.

The day I was here there was a Helicopter taking off having presumably dropped off a patient to one of the hospitals. I was across the street and it was cool to pause a moment and watch it take off. My job with the pd has afforded me a few chances to watch them land and take off always amazing to see.

Finally, after many distractions and the occasional accosting by folks looking for a smoke, I made it to my final destination Stroger Hospital. Walking in through the main entrance one realizes that only a couple of hundred feet away the emergency room is packed with people who have no insurance seeking medical help and are too sick to use the free clinic one passes on the way into the Stroger complex. A clinic that as I passed I could hear people muttering to each other about the hours they’ve had to wait to see a doctor. I was in a suit and over-coat carrying a briefcase and was actually approached by two different people one wondering if I was a doctor and the other if I was a lawyer.  In both cases after telling them I was neither, they hit me up for a cigarette. I suppose those times when you can’t get a Doctor or a Lawyer a smoke will do. When I approached the medical records desk I had to give them a business card and show Id to obtain the records I needed. At first they told to have a seat, there were six other people in front of me, which by what I’d seen may have been the shortest line in the hospital. However, the efficient staff was very quick at their job and I was quickly back into the world of “Hey! Buddy you got a smoke?”  as worked my way back to the El and on into my north loop office. Customer’s medical history in a plain brown envelope securely in my bag.

It’s interesting that once your just outside of the “Medical District”, University or Chicago Circle Campus & Malcolm X College the neighbor sinks quickly into decline, it is however undergoing a slow rehabilitation itself due at part to the new construction of the hospitals and general area they occupy. There are still places near to the hospitals that still draw people who are down on their luck, one building in the foreground of the picture I took of Cook/Stroger has a greasy spoon and small tenant apartments with windowless metal security entry doors in a building where the owner thought that a new paint job would hide the deteriorating condition of the building in general and there is a big apartment building called “The Medical Center Apartments”  that could certainly use a sprucing up…

Here’s a picture of the new hospital the awning in the foreground is the main entrance the other is the emergency…

Photo from CCHIL website. Hopefully, someday the goal of providing quality health-care to all Americans will be realized without special hospitals or the medical community as whole bearing the brunt of it.

Whether on a city, county, or state level a lot can be accomplished in doing the greater good. We all just need to decide to do it…

About MartyW47

Attending Triton College. Studying Emergency Services Management & Criminal Justice. Currently employed @ MPPD & Aflac. After 30 years out of school I'm back in College and having a Blast!
This entry was posted in General Thoughts, Life in all it's glorious facets, Political Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Old and the the New

  1. Mimi says:

    “I suppose those times when you can’t get a Doctor or a Lawyer a smoke will do.”
    This line is so good it belongs in a book! I absolutely love this post. Thanks Marty!

  2. wow that city is so huge everything about it is grand

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