With a clear end goal to improve health, counseling, and wellness services, the University built a new and improved student wellness center. After announcing the project two years ago, the University has made good on its word; the new facility is now the convenient and central location for medical, counseling and psychiatry, and health promotion services within Chicago Lying-In and a dedicated entrance at 59th Maryland.
The job was comprised of several sequential phases. Part of phase one involved construction of the west wing, which was completed in Mid-March, the same time when COVID-19 cases surged, and the governor of Illinois issued its first stay at home order. The pandemic presented many unforeseen challenges, but Senior Project Manager, Angela Knoble worked hard to ensure there was minimal disruption to construction, obtained the necessary occupancy certificate from the city of Chicago, but most importantly that tenants from Student Health were able to move in as planned.
Service providers and staff were kept in mind, but UChicago students were at the heart of this expansion from the very beginning. Students were invited to participate in surveys and in town hall meetings with architects. Their feedback was taken into consideration as the hope is the new center will be a welcoming environment where holistic care is provided. Knoble stated that “Integrating Health Promotion & Wellness, Counseling, & Student Health into one facility will play a part in improved services for patient wellness.” She believes it truly provides a higher level of patient care.
Significant improvements have been made to the space in the 89 year- old building making it more viable and attractive. The new space has larger waiting areas and is strategically filled with modern lighting and a range of living plants. Studies have shown that lights in healthcare settings can produce positive outcomes and improve perceptions. Additional enhancements include almost twice as many exam rooms, going from 10 to 19 rooms, and an improved patient care flow.
The last phase of the project, the east wing, will be completed by the end of the year. Health Promotion and Wellness will be moving in next and lastly, Counseling will take residence. Having all services in one space reflects the center’s integrated approach to providing care and its mission to provide students with comprehensive health, counseling, and wellness resources that support their academic, personal, and professional success.