Chicago set to open advanced response center

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation Center for Advanced Emergency Response, is fully equipped for decontamination during a large-scale emergency or bioattack, will open on Friday in the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
The facility includes interconnected pods that are capable of isolation to prevent the spread of infectious agents, permanent decontamination showers and large storage tanks to collect contaminated water run-off from patients. It is the first facility of its kind in the United States.
“The center brings an unprecedented level of preparedness to Chicago in the event of a bioterrorist attack, a deadly pandemic or an industrial accident sending hazardous materials seeping into the streets,” Dino Rumoro, the chairman of emergency medicine at Rush, said.
The idea behind the emergency response center came after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when the definition of a mass casualty was expanded to include inhalation problems, burns and the entire body being crushed.
“Our goal is to do what hospitals all over the country have been trying to do for years: give patients a place to go in a large-scale emergency,” Rumoro said. “The concept of the new emergency room is not that novel, but putting together all the key elements of this center is novel. In an event of an emergency, we will closely coordinate all of our work with neighboring institutions and the city’s office of emergency management and communications.”
On a daily basis, the new facility will be a traditional emergency room with 60 treatment bays and a surge capacity of 133 percent. The inpatients that are currently at Rush will move to the new 40,000 square foot, 14-story facility on Sunday.
“Since we are committed to providing unprecedented disaster response and due to our affiliation with the military, being able to conduct coordinated large-scale decontamination inside and outside the hospital is a major public health responsibility," Rumoro said.
Rush received a $7.5 million grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation as well as grants from other agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, to build the facility. The center is part of a $654 million new hospital building called the Tower, which is a major component of a 10 year, $1 billion campus redevelopment program called the Rush Transformation.