Expanding crucial specialty care for an underserved post-industrial community

SwedishAmerican Hospital, Women and Children’s Hospital, Rockford, Ill.

Rockford’s origin story began with Scandinavian immigrants, and the city has continued to expand and transform from farming to being an industrial city and is now embracing a post-industrial future. The growing Hispanic and Latino population, especially those on the city’s west side are without many necessary social and healthcare resources, particularly centralized specialty care. SwedishAmerican Hospital’s new Women and Children’s is poised to bring much needed specialty healthcare services and create unprecedented access directly to this otherwise underserved community and to the Rockford region at large.

SwedishAmerican, a division of UW Health, expanded its services and this campus to house multiple specialties, including pediatrics clinics for cardiology and otolaryngology and more on the first floor, labor and delivery on the second floor, a NICU on the third floor, and mother/baby rooms on the fourth floor. This is the most comprehensive array of services for mothers, newborns and children in the area, from traditional labor and delivery to caring for the most critically ill babies. It also localizes pediatric care and UW pediatric services, eliminating the need to drive to Madison or Chicago for an array of specialties.

The new facility has a sweeping curvilinear canopy entrance that provides continuous covered access to both the Women and Children’s Tower and adjacent heart hospital, with clear wayfinding for patients seeking out both services. It complements and refreshes the exterior design of the adjacent mid-century modern hospital tower, while bringing 21st century healthcare and technology to the campus.

Warm natural wood and broad views to historic Charles Street – a major artery through Rockford — greet patients and visitors in the lobby. The interior design draws inspiration from Scandinavian motifs, with clean lines, colors palettes reminiscent of the nearby river, forest and prairie as well as plentiful natural light throughout the space to create a welcoming atmosphere for staff and families alike.

Increased privacy for patients and stringent infection control measures were also crucial considerations for this hospital. The 120,000-sf building has larger delivery rooms, 24 private NICU rooms and 14 private labor and delivery rooms. Monitors in each room let mothers watch the live birth. Post-pandemic considerations include an ultraviolet light station to sanitize personal items. A multi-person hand-washing station at the entrance to the NICU takes an otherwise mundane protocol and turns it into a design feature in the space.