“I moved a hospital today…”

“I moved a hospital today… What did you do?”

Maureen Mahoney, the hospital’s chief of transition planning, said the staff’s extensive preparation for the move has paid off.

“We’ve been planning for this for four years, and we have not had really any surprises today,” she said.


On the first day of our class, a remarkable project was going on. Moving 126 patients from the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park to their new facility in Streeterville.

Roads were closed. More than 24 ambulances were involved. 14 hours worth of work. And no real surprises.

Maureen Mahoney was tasked with leading the project. The project has been 6 years in the making. Mahoney visited 13 other hospitals that went through moves and learned that comprehensive planning with plenty of time was crucial for their success. She started with the hospital in 1984 as a staff nurse and kept a notepad by her bed at night to write down spontaneous thoughts about the move.

Unexpected things did come up, but Mahoney adjusted. For example the NATO conference forced the team to delay some moves and training. And a company was put on call in case the hospital needed to be boarded up if protests made their way north.

For such a high profile project, it appears the move went very smoothly for employees and patients alike. In fact, many parents were looking forward to the move since their children hadn’t been outside in some time and were used to being “poked and prodded.”

Mahoney’s team was assisted by Balfour Resource Group which has expertise in the movement of medical facility moves.

The planning to pull this off obviously had to be incredible – having ER’s open at both locations should a child’s condition worsen, and then attempting to plan for weather or political events which could disrupt the move.

The team celebrated their success by wearing purple t-shirts which read “I moved a hospital today… What did you do?”

The skills which everyone has written about were clearly evident in the leaders of this project.

What element of the move impresses you the most? I was working in the area the day before the move and spoke to several of the staff who were packing their final boxes. They seemed excited and none seemed overly stressed about the move which is a testament to the pre-planning and work of Mahoney and her team.





6 thoughts on ““I moved a hospital today…”

  1. This blog strikes close to home for me as my older sister has spent many night in the Children’s Memorial Hospital that was on Fullerton. Today she still has major medical problems that require almost constant care. So for me the most impressive part of the move is that they were able to move some of these more critical patients, get them outside, and into their new rooms in Streeterville without have any unexpected medical emergencies. Also the amount of medications and staff that had to be moved in an orderly and safe manner is impressive. Another element that was impressive is the donations that allowed them to move to a new advanced and more family friendly environment. The scheduling may have been push back and some people in the city may have been unaware of the move which could of cause a longer commute but i think it was a great feat.

  2. What a great article and blog post. You did not only relate to a big project, but you also related to our local hospital right on campus. I find that it must have been so challenging to accomplish this move because you are not only dealing with people, but you are dealing with kids and those kids are sick. I am curious how much planning and how many staff members it really took to accomplish this. There are many unexpected changes in a project that you must act instantly accomindate for.

  3. This blog is very exciting-it presents strategic planning in a way that you can instantaneously recognize the value of. The sites are very close by and very relatable and the post raises a lot of questions. I would be interested to see if there were any problems, besides the NATO summit, and what actions Mahoney took to remedy the situation. Taking a look at the unexpected problems that arise when developing a strategic plan and the adaptations adopted to combat the problems would be fascinating.

  4. It would be nice to understand how much flexibility and what contingency plans Mahoney had to build into the execution of this project. The success of a good project manager is being able to foresee the unexpected and building a schedule and a risk mitigation plan that can handle any bumps along the way. Comprehensive planning is a must, but it is also important that the message and plan be communicated to all employees across the organization.

  5. What is impressive is that the hospital seems to believe in empowering their employees as they tasked someone who started out as a staff nurse originally at the hospital as the project lead of this big move. This example demonstrates that one doesn’t need formal business training to be an expert at leading projects, but one needs decisive decision making and research to successfully lead a project. What was impressive was that the project lead Maureen did so much prep work and research as she visited 13 hospitals who had performed moves of their own. Not only did she herself do research, but she also brought in a third party specialist in medical facility moves. She was able to gain valuable knowledge through research and the specialists. This would be a good case in doing proper research and linking to knowledgeable vendors to successfully lead a project.

  6. I’m personally impressed by the detailed planning and risk management that had to have been factored into this project plan. I’ve never been involved in a project that took so many years of planning or had so much at stake for an event that would be finished in a day. I can’t imagine the pressure involved with the risk of having a life-or-death situation occur during the project. I’ve worked on large projects with a lot of money on the line but nothing that remotely compares to this. This would be even more difficult to plan, as you say, based on possible weather or other disruptions that could occur in Chicago on any given day. Seeing that Maureen said “We’ve been planning for this for four years, and we have not had really any surprises today,” is amazing, not to mention that many of the patients saw this as a great thing and not as an inconvenience. It is truly impressive to be able to put so much effort into the details while still generating excitement among those affected by the project.

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