On Saturday, new headquarters building in the western Chicago suburb of Schaumburg. This exciting event was to highlight the commencement of construction on the new 70,000-square-foot facility that will house ASA staff and support ASA operations for the next several decades. The ASA Ad Hoc Committee on Headquarters Building Construction has been working with our design team (Tilton, Kelly and Bell) and ASA executive office leadership to design a building that will not only provide an extraordinary upgrade to existing staff facilities and services, but will also offer opportunities for growth and potential advantage that we can’t even imagine in our current facility and location. I will discuss in this very brief article just some of the great potential and value that our new ASA executive office will bring to this extraordinary medical specialty society and its membership.
One of the encouraging events of the groundbreaking ceremony was the enthusiastic support and encouragement expressed by the long-standing mayor of Schaumburg, Mr. Al Larson. Holding that position for nearly 30 years, he is obviously very fond of his community, and I believe he is correct and honest in his high praise for his “village.” Once we are established in this prosperous community, I am certain that ASA will realize significant advantage related to its new suburban location.
Another very obvious and exciting quality to this opening act for the new ASA home was the many ASA staff who gave up their Saturday morning to attend this celebration. The opportunity and growth potential this new space will bring to our current and future staff is very exciting and extremely welcomed by all of our talented team currently working in Park Ridge. Since the Organizational Improvement Initiative (OII) in 2007, our number of employees has doubled. Based upon that rapid and essential expansion in staff, the limited facility size and infrastructure in Park Ridge is simply not able to provide the requirements for service and support. Our new building will not only fully support current staff and operational needs, but will also provide an inviting and spacious work environment and accessible location that will be embraced by our employees well into the future.
One of the features of the new headquarters, particularly on the first floor, will be display of the treasures of the Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology (WLM). The WLM has had its original space in the current building significantly reduced as our number of personnel has grown. Our future location and building will offer a new and improved opportunity for the WLM to portray the history of this uniquely American medical specialty, and highlight many of the extraordinary physician anesthesiologists who have made special contributions through scientific and clinical discovery. The Wood Library, including the rare book room, will be located near the front entrance on the ground floor. A museum design company, Solid Light, based in Louisville, Kentucky, has been retained by WLM to help design a layout utilizing modern museum technology to guide and enhance the project and its message. Negotiations regarding the final amount of museum space and financial relationships with WLM are continuing at this time, but it is certain that the obvious presence of WLM, and the significance and importance of our great medical specialty, will be featured throughout the building, especially within the first floor. It is the vision of the building committee that all members of ASA will have the desire and the opportunity to visit our medical specialty headquarters at some point during their careers.
The most important and significant upgrade our new facility will bring to ASA is the Education Center, also located on the first (ground) floor. This area near the library and museum will be composed of a well-equipped auditorium with seating for up to 150 attendees, and an adjacent multi-purpose room capable of hosting up to 200 people, and equipped with dividers to add versatility to this important space.
Encouraging the use of this new Education Center for many potential ASA activities will bring ASA members to the headquarters building and may also provide new potential business opportunities and advantages to ASA that we currently do not enjoy. Some of the many potential uses for the new ASA Education Center include hosting editorial board meetings and existing ASA CME meetings and providing a new option for holding small governance meetings, foundation board meetings, leadership training and clinical workshops, summits among local medical associations with common interests, committee meetings for any of the almost 100 ASA committees, internal use for all future learning sessions for ASA staff, and allowing use by community organizations and other not-for-profits that lack their own educational facilities. Obviously, this list highlighting the potential options for the new ASA Education Center is incomplete, but it reinforces why the building committee prioritized the addition of the Education Center to our new executive office building.
In closing, I recall the deliberations of ASA leadership with our consultants, The Gordon Group, back in 2007, when we discovered that we were in a vulnerable and weak position relative to benchmarks, and member services were simply not meeting our membership’s expectations. We embarked on the OII, and the physician executive leaders of that time often held up the lofty vision and challenge, “ASA will be the premier medical specialty society.” Over the past half decade, ASA has made major improvements in nearly every aspect of its enterprise and, ultimately, added value to its 50,000 members. I am not going to be so bold as to claim that we have yet arrived at our rather optimistic “vision,” but we are certainly moving in that direction. One of the absolute obstacles for us to achieve our goals and meet our member needs has become obvious: the limitations imposed by our current inadequate executive office facility. Our new headquarters building will bring space, opportunity, advantage and benefit to this extraordinary medical specialty society, and hopefully great pride and pleasure to all of our staff, each of our members and everyone who visits.
Steven L. Sween, M.D. is a staff anesthesiologist and Board of Directors member, Physician Specialists in Anesthesia, PC, Atlanta.