University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences

The waiting and reception area in the Huron International Patient Lounge.


(November 22, 2015) When patients walk into the University of Chicago Medicine’s new Huron International Patient Lounge, they might think that they have entered the suite of a five-star luxury hotel. This new facility will begin warmly welcoming international patients in December.

The new lounge, which supports UChicago Medicine’s International Program expansion, will assist patients with medical and support services that include but are not limited to appointment setting, travel coordination, hotel accommodations, medical transportation services and language interpretation services. The new lounge is located inside the 150 E. Huron building, a floor below UChicago Medicine’s Huron Clinic, in downtown Chicago.

“We place many of our international patients in accommodations around the Magnificent Mile,” said Diala Atassi, manager of operations and guest services for the International Program. “It made sense to create this space so our patients can walk in and conveniently reach our team for anything they may need.”

Inspired by Chicago’s most beautiful hotels such as the Peninsula and the Drake, the facility will make patients and their families feel as though they are enjoying the comfort of home.

 The 2,400-square-foot lounge will contain:

  • A large family lounge space with a reception desk
  • A private waiting room
  • A consultation room (physicians from the clinic will provide consultation)
  • An exam room
  • A kitchenette

Two double offices and a conference room will be available in the lounge to support the growth of the International Program.

“The space is designed to be a warm and inviting place for international patients and their families,” said Erika Turckes, senior facilities planner. “From the relaxing neutral color palate to the sleek modular furniture choices, it was our goal to make them feel welcomed and relaxed during their stay.”

The diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds of these patients also required the clinic to have some non-traditional features that one would not typically find in a medical facility.

An example is the sizable prayer room to meet a patient’s religious needs. The International Program is experiencing an increase in Muslim patients from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia who require an area to manage a five-times-a-day  prayer schedule.

The large room can be divided into male and female prayer spaces when it’s not being used for events or larger functions. It can serve as an overflow waiting area for children or another space for larger gatherings. Since many of the patients are from distant areas, this facility becomes a refuge to facilitate connection with other families.

“This new lounge will have an important social component,” said Emilio Williams, executive director of the International Program. “It is a comfortable, safe place for different families with extended stays in Chicago to come together and interact with each other or with our team. Our hope was to offer a place to gather to our patients, with their support-community, in a home away from home.”

Although the facility is 10 miles north of the Hyde Park campus, photographs of the University of Chicago Medicine flagship location can be seen within the clinic.

UChicago Medicine began development of the space in early 2015.

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