Case Studies

Charlie Cloutier – Northwestern Memorial Healthcare

Community care = caring about the community

The Northwestern Medicine Advanced Outpatient Care Center now under construction in the Chicago neighborhood of Old Irving Park will provide sorely needed and comprehensive health care services to the community.

The $150 million health care center is also a testament to community engagement because operators Northwestern Memorial HealthCare heard and responded to feedback that the building was too tall at five stories, says Charlie Cloutier.

To prevent cutting back on services, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare dug deeper for underground parking. It cost more, but the value of being good neighbors is more important, says Cloutier, the health system’s director of planning and construction.

Charlie Cloutier | Director, Planning and Construction | Northwestern Memorial Healthcare

Charlie Cloutier | Director, Planning and Construction | Northwestern Memorial Healthcare

The outpatient care center in Old Irving Park isn’t the only example of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare’s commitment to providing care while understanding who’s being served, he says. At the Northwestern Memorial HealthCare outpatient care center in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, construction will begin in the summer in a joint venture that includes a minority-owned contractor.

“What I like about working for a health care system is that these buildings aren’t getting sold. We own them forever and take a long-term view of the quality of materials,” Cloutier says. “One of the biggest things that has been an important focus of my time over the past five years has been the community engagement process. We need to be out in the community and getting people to understand the importance of projects while understanding their needs.”

Combining for care

Northwestern Memorial Hospital was created in 1972 with the consolidation of Passavant Memorial (founded in 1865) and Wesley Memorial (founded in 1888) hospitals. The consolidation created a 1,000-bed hospital—the largest nonprofit health care institution in the Midwest, but it was just the beginning of the system’s growth.

In 1975, Prentice Women’s Hospital and Northwestern University’s Institute of Psychiatry merged into the system, followed by the Olson Critical Care Pavilion in 1979. Cloutier joined Northwestern Memorial HealthCare when it added Central DuPage Hospital in 2014.

Charlie Cloutier | Director, Planning and Construction | Northwestern Memorial Healthcare

Northwestern Memorial HealthCare currently has 11 hospitals and partners with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine to form Northwestern Medicine. The system has more than 4,000 physicians among its 33,000 employees, practices in 40 medical specialties and sub-specialties and has conducted more than 5,700 clinical trials and studies.

Cloutier says he and his planning and construction team are engaged in as many as 100 projects, such as building smaller outpatient facilities, remodeling and renovating, or replacing equipment such as MRIs or CT scanners.

Listening more and digging deeper

The 150,000-square-foot Northwestern Medicine Advanced Outpatient Care Center in Old Irving Park is scheduled to open later this year.

Covering an entire city block, the facility was originally planned to be five stories in order to provide comprehensive care services for the largely residential neighborhood.

However, the proposed height was greater than buildings surrounding it and neighbors made it clear it was too tall. So, Cloutier and Northwestern Memorial HealthCare decided to reduce the height to four stories while doubling down on below ground parking by digging 30 feet below the surface.

The change in plans makes the facility more community friendly, and the building is also going to be environmentally friendly as it earns the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Silver Certification.

Charlie Cloutier | Director, Planning and Construction | Northwestern Memorial Healthcare

Its features include exterior glass to provide more natural light to the lobby on the building’s eastern side, a 24,000-square-foot green roof with garden space that can help contain and filter rainwater and electric vehicle charging stations. And it’s built with low-carbon-footprint materials. An estimated 80 percent of the construction materials will be diverted to other projects, too.

In Bronzeville, the new 120,000-square-foot outpatient facility is being built on land once owned by three parties, including the city of Chicago. It’s going to provide immediate care services as well as diagnostics, mammograms, lab tests and chemotherapy in an area with a population of 50,000 people. In keeping with mixed-use projects in the neighborhood, the first floor will also contain retail space.

The project is expected to create 1,000 construction jobs in a joint venture between Ujamaa Construction and Power Construction, the companies also collaborating on the Old Irving Park project. Ujamaa is a minority-owned firm that specializes in community rebuilding projects with a diverse workforce and an emphasis on sustainable construction, Cloutier says.

“Taking a health care building out of the ground in an urban location narrows down who you can work with,” he says. “This project has been a catalyst for us to look across our entire portfolio and improve on how we do things—not just in Bronzeville, but everywhere.”

Helping in his hometown

Cloutier is a Chicago native who earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2008. He also has an MBA from DePaul’s Driehaus College of Business, which he earned in 2017.

It was not a good time to be looking for a job with an architecture degree as Cloutier was graduating. But there were still jobs in health care, which is how he ended up joining Central DuPage Hospital as associate construction coordinator in July 2009.

Charlie Cloutier | Director, Planning and Construction | Northwestern Memorial Healthcare

In October 2011, he became construction coordinator, then was named manager of construction administration in July 2013. As Central DuPage Hospital, which was operating as Cadence Health along with Delnor Hospital, merged with Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, Cloutier became market manager for facility planning and construction. He was named to his current position in May 2016.

“Everyone is in it because they care and are passionate about it,” Cloutier says. “I expected to do this for a few years and move on. But 14 years later, I’m still doing this because of the complexity and challenges and because I love helping to provide the most advanced health care to the communities and patients we serve.”

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. IV 2023 Edition here.

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